Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Plot Really Thickens

Two days before the vote on a new MD GOP chairman, the landscape appears to be changing radically.

The plan to elect Louis Pope as a "transitional" chairman has been running into a greater resistance from members of the state central committee who want to "get it right from the start."

Today, there is an announcement that Mr. Pope is stepping aside and endorsing Dr. Jim Pelura, a late entrant in the race, for the job. Dr. Pelura is a long time activist from Anne Arundel County and served critical roles in both Ehrlich campaigns as well as the 2004 Bush campaign. He and his wife, Marianne Pelura, have both served as members of the Republican State Central Committee for Anne Arundel County.

Jim is obviously a great choice and certainly will work hard for the party. He has a particular commitment to grassroots development and, although a significant donor himself, is less enamored of the money end of the game. As a member of the Arundel central committee he always preferred low cost events to generate as many participants as possible over high dollar events that would raise more money.

Here is what Mr. Pope had to say:

Central Committee Chairs and Members:

"I am honored and humbled by the positive reaction I have received from you concerning my candidacy for the next Chairman. Serving as Chair would have been an honor and I know we could have moved the Party forward in a new direction to retake the Governor’s mansion, pick up more seats in the General Assembly, and ultimately restore a two party government in Maryland. I have also been honored to serve as your National Committeeman since 2004, and I look forward to continuing in this capacity. I cannot however serve as both a National Committeeman and Chair of the Party; therefore, I am withdrawing my name as a candidate for Chairman. The state is fortunate to have many qualified leaders to direct the Party for the next four years. As such, I am fully endorsing Jim Pelura as the next Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. Jim has been an active leader in the Party for many years and I am fully confident that he is the best person to serve as the next Chair. I humbly ask you to cast your vote for Jim Pelura this Saturday.

Sincerely,
Louis Pope"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Plot Thickens (Pt. 2)

A source close to the Montgomery County state central committee members confirmed the growing concesus that I reported here for current National Committeeman Lewis Pope to serve a one year "transitional" state party chairmanship. In addition, the source indicated that current state party counel, Dirk Haire, had the inside track for the next full chairman's term.

Stay tuned.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Plot Thickens

I have been reporting on the leadership struggles within the Republican party. With the national and local leadership established, the only outstanding decisions regard who will lead Republicans on the state level.

The leadership hierarchy in the Maryland Republican Party has changed somewhat with multiple vice-chairman being replaced with regional vice chairman.

In speaking with a number of the members of the state central committee, the overall chairmanship remains wide open with some consensus forming for Louis Pope to serve as a one year "transitional" chairman.

Of interest to Anne Arundel Republicans, sources indicate that former county chairman Chuck Gast has the inside shot at the regional vice-chairmanship which includes our county. Preliminary discussions also indicate that Erik Robbey, current state First Vice Chairman, may be on the way out with other central committee members from other counties refusing to discuss the position or Erik with Anne Arundel members lobbying on his behalf.

The state party convention will be held next weekend in Annapolis.

No doubt there will be more to report on these issues.

End of Story?

The certified vote totals show that the Republicans in Anne Arundel county have kept their numbers with Ron George and Don Dwyer being certified as winners.

I mentioned here that the Democrats have been very aggressive in their challenges during the process and may take legal action. The Baltimore Sun reports here that the Democrats are still considering challenges and refuse to concede.

Sources close to the counting, however, informed me that Democrat attorneys have advised against a challenge by Delegate Cadden. These sources have first hand knowledge of the advice given and are not revealing any confidence by informing this blog that attorneys supervising the count determined that the election was "clean" and that the possible avenues of challenge would have little or no legal viability.

Of particular note, the Dems are challenging rejected provisional ballots by voters who assumed they were registered. In addition, they may try to retroactively challenge certain absentee ballots.

The law, however, is very clear on the registration issue and the Dems have already passed a deadline for further challenges to absentee votes. It is also uncertain what, if any, impact those challenges would have on the final outcome.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The latest on the tight races

With all provisional and abseentee votes counted, here is where we are:

District 30 Delegate

George 21811
Samorajczyk 21758

53 vote lead for Ron

Dist 31 Delegate
Dwyer 17557
Cadden 17529

28 vote lead for Don

Sources very close to the count indicate that the Democrats are planning court challenges.

Enter the lawyers.

Bob Michel or Newt Gringich?

One of the reasons I started this blog was to provide readers some insight into local Republican politics that you would not get anywhere else. Here is the first installment.

Here is the reporting.

I reported here about the coming leadership struggle within the House of Delegates Republican caucus. The struggle is a rematch of the fight a couple of years ago between Del. Wade Kach and his team and that of Del. O'Donnell (who served as minority whip). That was won by the O'Donnell forces by a single vote.

An anonymous source within the caucus informed me that the the single vote that made the difference a couple of years ago came from Delegate Bob Costa (R-33B) who split with other Anne Arundel House members to support the O'Donnell team. For his efforts he was made an assistant whip. A year or so later, Costa resigned his leadership position and left the caucus entirely although he did not cease being a Republican.

Now Costa is leading the charge to replace O'Donnell with Kach, who he personally kept from having the position previously.

Now for the opinion.

Costa's cynical and unabashedly opportunistic efforts remind me of Italy during the First World War. It is a despicable act by a Delegate uninterested, it would seem, in the good of the party or any principle beyond himself.

Tony O'Donnell is a solid conservative leader and would not bring the "moderate voice" Wade Kach has been seeking to bring for the last few years. O'Donnell is solidly pro-life, led the fight against spending taxpayer dollars for embryonic stem cell research, was the primary supporter of "Jessica's Law", opposed the huge tax increases urged by the Democrats, led the fight against early voting, the "Wal-Mart Bill" and other unconstitutional legislation, all while carrying the water for the Ehrlich administration and heroically standing up to the ironfisted rule of Mike Busch.

Tony O'Donnell has earned his stripes and deserves to keep them.

We have been here before. The O'Donnell/Kach fight is the Bob Michel/Newt Gringich fight of the early nineties. Do we content ourselves as Republicans to being docile backbenchers or do we unite behind a leadership that will demand accountability and fight for a clear alternative agenda which can lead to political victory in future elections. The latter choice was Newt Gringich and is Tony O'Donnell.

No curse after all

I posted here my predictions concerning the potential Repbulican leadership on the county, state and national level. Soon after, as I noted here, my prediciton about Michael Steele was proven wrong.

Locally, however, Mike Collins was elected last night as chairman of the Anne Arundel Republican Central Committee and Eric Flamino returns to the role as vice-chairman. Both Mike and Eric are veteran members and have been important parts of the Republican successes in Anne Arundel County over the last few election cycles.

The entire RSCCAAC leadership team is as follows:

Chairman--Mike Collins
Vice Chairman--Eric Flamino
Treasurer--Tonia Miller
Recording Secretary--Victor Henderson
Corresponding Secretary--Pam Scarbro
Legal Counsel--Doug Thiessen

Congratulations to them all!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

And So It Begins

With talk of "structural deficits" and possible tax increases, here comes the first real indication of the negtive impact of the incoming O'Malley administration.

The Examiner reports here that the first eighteen months of the O'Malley administration will include the replacement of three of the seven member Court of Appeals, Maryland's highest court for those who did not pay attention in school.

While the issue was raised during the campaign, the story today hits two key points many may not have fully appreciated. First, an objective review of the retiring justices shows that they are the most conservative on the court. Second, the O'Malley people are unabashed in their desire to pick justices who will fall into the liberal mold of social activists with little regard for "plain language" or "original intent".

Having argued the PSC case before the Court of Appeals, which led to the first of many rebukes of the Busch/Miller General Assembly, I know all too well what we are losing and the stakes at issue. When you look at what the Court did over the past few years to reign in democratic excesses and the looming issue of gay marriage, it is easy to see how such a transformation of the Court of Appeals could remove what few barriers exist keeping Maryland from becoming the most liberal state in the country.

God help us.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Don't Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater

The Washington Post reports here that there is a move afoot to oust Delegate Anthony J. "Tony" O'Donnell as leader of the Republicans in the House of Delegates.

I hope that the Republican caucus rejects this effort. First, unlike Republican leaders in Washington, Tony O'Donnell has been an effective, ethical and principled conservative leader. The setbacks in this year's elections, which have been lessened with Republican pickups post election day, are simply not Tony's fault.

Del. Koch, who is gunning for the job, wants the caucus to be more moderate. Do Republicans really believe we lost because we were too conservative? Do they really believe being more moderate (read be more like the Dems) is the way to make gains?

I do not think so.

Tony O'Donnell was a great minority whip and deserves the minority leader job. He can do far more to help bring the caucus together and be an effective minority in preparation for greater gains in 2010.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Do you Believe in Miracles?

Here are the latest counts

Dist 30 Delegate

George 21788
Samorajczyk 21722

66 vote lead for Ron

Dist 31 Delegate

Dwyer 17527
Cadden 17516

11 vote lead for Don

After a tough election night, it appears AA Republicans are holding their numbers in the House of Delegates while adding a Senator and a County Executive to their council majority.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Best Laid Plans

I hope it is a mistake and not a curse but my prediction about Michael Steele heading the RNC appears to be wrong. News reports now report Sen. Mel Martinez will head the party while remaining in the Senate.

What is the advantage of having a sitting Republican Senator? Are the reports that Karl Rove wanted Steele in the cabinet true?

Let the speculation commence.

A great team

With the election winding up and Republicans on the losing end, the speculation for who will control the Republican party on every level begins.

On the national level, speculation is high that our own Michael Steele is being considered for the RNC spot. Given the lack of any other candidates and the announcement that the current chair Ken Mehlman, also a Marylander, is stepping down the momentum for a Steele chairmanship is approaching unstoppable. I think he did a great job as Maryland's party chairman and is the perfect man for the RNC job.

At the state level, current chairman John Kane is stepping down in time for the state convention in December. The Washington Times reports here that Anne Arundel's own, and current state party counsel, Dirk Haire is one of the finalists for the job.

Dirk is an excellent choice. In addition to being exceptionally bright, he has been involved with the operation of the state party, is a proven fundraiser and will bring the right approach to holding together a party that very easily could disintegrate into a million pieces after this year's election.

Locally, Thursday is the first meeting of the newly elected county central committee. Mike Collins, as the highest vote getter for central committee, will serves as chairman pro temp. Mike has made it no secret, however, that he wants the chairman job for good and appears to be the main contender for the post. Mike is a sold choice but with so much new blood on the committee it will be interesting to see how things play out.

For Anne Arundel Republicans, the Republican Party at all levels is likely to be controlled by people we have known for years and who will give great deference and influence to the engine that is driving the party in Maryland.

Razor Thin

The final countdown of the 2006 election begins today with two critical Delegate seats up for grabs. The parties are mobilized for the counting of approximately 3000 provisional ballots and a second round of absentee ballots from overseas.

As reported here, the Democrats are throwing everything they can into controlling these counts. The Republicans will also be out in force with the lawyers, led by our capable central committee counsel (how is that for alliteration) Doug Thiessen.

Here is where we are. Don Dwyer is about 30 votes short of completing a clean sweep in District 31 and Ron George has a lead of less than 100 votes for a seat in District 30. I ran into a bleary eyed Don Dwyer on Saturday who simply said he was "waiting for Thursday" when the vote would be finalized.

The conventional wisdom is that many provisional ballots are from those who sought absentees but ended up going to the polls. The overseas absentee ballots are largely from military personnel. Given the absentee results in general and other trends, this should favor Republicans.

Stay tuned.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hang on Tight

Here is the latest missive from our leaders on the county cenral committee: "At present, Republicans have gained the County Executive seat, held the County Council, gained a Senate seat, and may keep our strength in the House, albeit with a shift of a Republican seat from 32 to 31.Provisional ballots will be counted Monday with overseas absentee ballots counted on Wednesday. Mike Busch’s campaign manager was reported to have been yelling into a cell phone that they need a team down there Monday to challenge every ballot. Apparently they do not want EVERY vote to count, or to count EVERY vote. They will do ANYTHING to erase our gains. Fasten your seatbelts. It is just getting interesting." Mike Collins

Here is just how close the count is:

John Leopold 92,088 and George Johnson 88,099

Bryan Simonaire 19,230 and Shandrowsky 18,622

Don Dwyer 17,291 and Joan Cadden 17,321.. A 30 vote difference, Don can still pull it out with Provisional Ballots on Monday.

Ron George 21,414 and Barbara Samorajczyk 21,386

Dusting Ourselves Off

This will be one of the few posts where I will look back at what happened on Tuesday. While a post mortem and a lot of reflection is called for, I would much prefer to look ahead. There is a good article today in the Sun which quotes other Republicans with whom I agree.

But, while the votes are still being counted, here are my thoughts. The sludge from the Congressional Republicans failure to govern effectively and manage themselves motivated democrats and demoralized at least a few conservatives. This created a glass ceiling here in Maryland that Ehrlich and Steele, despite solid records, high approval ratings, plenty of money and well run campaigns, could not penetrate. It is too bad because, despite all the sniping you will start to hear, they bucked the national trend and in a normal year both would have won.

A clear example of this is Anne Arundel county. We kept our council majority, not a great accomplishment considering four incumbents faced only two drafted challengers, and appear to have elected a Republican county executive. If Leopold's lead holds, as I think it will, Anne Arundel Republicans accomplished something extraordinary despite the national trend, despite Johnson's million plus dollars and despite our inability to do it four years ago in a banner year.

The legislative races prove my point as well. It appears, if the numbers hold, that we lost two house seats but gained a Senate seat.

In 32, my good friend Terry Gilleland was targeted long ago and had difficulties while facing what was, in essence, a solid incumbent democratic slate. He really had no chance and many people, not me, wrote the seat off months ago. By the way, Mark Chang deserves kudos for a very well run campaign for a first time candidate and now has to be considered a bright star in a very tough district.

In 30, however, we opened up an incumbent seat, always a risk, and had what was an enormous drain from the Whitney campaign. The 2000 votes Whitney got would have certainly put George, another pro-life, pro-family, pro-constitution conservative, over the top and may have gotten Smarick over as well. With all due respect, Pastor Whitney did great harm to everything he professes to believe in and was running to protect by guaranteeing three liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage legislators who have no regard for the constitution got elected. We still had a great chance of gains despite the environment and despite again running against a de facto incumbent slate.

In 31, a two to one democratic district, it appears we held in the House and gained in the Senate. It is nothing short of extraordinary and without the "anti-Republican headwind" emanating from Washington it may have been an easy clean sweep. Nic Kipke, also a good friend, deserves particular kudos for his race as does his campaign manager Erik Robbey (our "Karl Rove"?). They really accomplished what many observers would have called an impossible feat.

In 33, our majority Republican district, all the candidates won easily despite little to no general election campaigning and the smears against Del. McConkey.

So it was not 1998 and if we had the same environment as 2002 we would have won just about everything. We have a great deal to work with in this county and we can reverse fortunes and make gains in four years as we did in 2002.

Despite being in the wilderness on the state and national levels, the future really is bright for us here in Anne Arundel county. We just need to dust ourselves off, roll up our sleeves and plan our way back.

It will not be an easy task but nothing is worth having that is not worth working to get.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Welcome to the Refuge

I hope you enjoy and visit this blog often. I am joining, and hope to bring together, the nascent conservative blogosphere here in Anne Arundel county and share information as well as news and opinions about local politics.

Consider this a "happy place" for conservatives in Anne Arundel county to view the news, debate the future and plot our way out of the wilderness after the setbacks (and successes) of 2006.

Share your comments, links of interest, etc. and thank you for visiting.