Monday, November 30, 2009

A NY-23 Scenario in Maryland?

It appears that former Republican Delegate Rick Weldon may be resigning his seat in the General Assembly to take a job with the City of Frederick. If he does, a very interesting decision will have to be made by the Frederick County Republican Central Committee (H/T Mike Netherland). The choice of Weldon's replacement by these party elites has the potential to be a miniature version of the debacle in NY-23 (which seems appropriate as Maryland is "America in Miniature").

While the die is far from cast, sources close to the committee tell me that there are two primary candidates seeking the job if it becomes available.

The first is central committee member and long time conservative activist Mike Hough. Mike is the former leader of the Maryland Republican Assembly which seeks to elect conservative Republicans to office. Mike is also a declared candidate for the District 3B seat and has reported approximately $30,000 raised and sources close to his campaign say that he expects to have over $50,000 cash in hand in his January report, a handsome sum for a single member district nearly a year before the election.

Given his background and active campaigning in conservative Frederick County, District 3B comprises arguably the most conservative part of Senator Alex Mooney's conservative District 3, Mr. Hough would seem to be the natural selection for any opening.

Surprisingly, however, another member of the central committee, Katie Nash, has been quietly attempting to get the job for herself. Little is known about Ms. Nash as she lacks the experience or track record of even the 30ish Mr. Hough. What makes some cast Ms. Nash in the Dede Scozzafava role, however, is not her youth but her views on the issues. She is widely reported to be pro-choice and has on multiple occasions posted on her facebook wall comments which seem to show great sympathy for the gay marriage movement, even to the point of praising Equality Maryland for pushing Obama to do more. Without a record of achievement or public positions, these few public statements seem the only clues about what a Delegate Nash may do in the General Assembly.

Which begs the question, if the situation would arise, why would any central committee consider putting a political unknown into the House of Delegates? It would not be the first time that a central committee got it wrong on what is arguably their most important job (remember Senator Bobby Neall?).

For conservatives, Mike Hough is exactly the kind of candidate we say we want. He is talented and unwavering in his conservative beliefs. He has worked not just to get other Republicans but conservative Republicans elected. He has shown that he can withstand the crucible of Annapolis and remain true to his principles.

So why would any conservative Republican, let alone a member of a central committee, ever consider appointing someone else, especially someone with more red flags than a Chinese May Day parade?

It is important that Maryland conservatives, not just those in Frederick County, get informed on this issue and let these committee members know that we are watching. Any process to select Delegate Weldon's replacement should be as open and transparent as possible and every candidate needs to be publicly scrutinized.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The irony of using the name Scott and "party unity" in the same sentence.

As our erstwhile colleague and member of the MDGOP Central Committee Mike Schwartz has reported, the effort to replace outging MDGOP Chair Dr. Jim Pelura is focusing on one candidate, Audrey Scott. With Chris Cavey nobly dropping out to avoid a contested fight for the chairman job, it begins to appears that Sec. Scott's ascension is a fait accompli.

Now, don't get me wrong. Audrey Scott is a longtime Republican leader in this state and has served honorably in a variety of elected and appointed posts. I do not question her qualification or ability for the job as chairman.

Nor do I disagree with the need for party unity. The non-stop backbiting of Jim Pelura since he began as chairman has served no useful purpose and I will be happy to see it end.

But there is a great irony in the conventional wisdom that making Audrey Scott the MDGOP chair will promote comity and unity within the Republican party.

Why?

Because as we have documented here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, her son Lawrence Scott is recognized as one of the most divisive forces within Maryland Republican politics.

Mr. Scott is well know for his questionable tactics in his work for various Republican primary campaigns. Among these are assertions of false endorsements via robocall and misleading signs at polling places, allegations that he supported multiple candidates in the same primary and his misleading use of a fundraising entity (that ended up spending over eighty cents on every dollar for expenses and self promotion without giving a dime to GOP candidates, its expressed purpose). One senior MDGOP official told me he was a "purveyor of slash and burn politics". Republican primary slash and burn politics by the way. Ask Delegate Tony McConkey or Gary Applebaum about being in a primary fight with a Scott managed candidate on the other side.

Now if I were, oh I don't know let me think of a name, State Senator Ed Reilly who will be involved in a bitter, divisive and no doubt negative primary fight with one of Mr. Scott's top clients, I don't think I would take much comfort that the party would regulate any impropriety in that race with Mr. Scott's mom running the show. No doubt Senator Reilly is not going to be the only candidate in a GOP primary next year on the wrong side of Scott Strategies, Inc.'s cavalcade of stars. After all, what a great marketing ploy for your campaign consulting business than to say my mom runs the party.

Now it may be unfair to visit the sins of the son on the mother. No doubt some will dismiss this criticism or me for that matter. But every member of the MDGOP central committee should consider these issues and Ms. Scott should address them now before we set our party up for dissension and division (with the potential of a compromised chair due to at least the appearance of a conflict of interest) next summer when these primary fights are the hottest.

See, that would be ironic given she is being chosen in the name of party unity.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I am Starting to Understand Newgent's Mancrush

I know that it has been a while since I have written here and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that people still come to visit in hope of reading my insipid rantings disguised as keen insight and thoughtful prose on the political environment. Having been consumed by the black hole that a four week trial creates I can attest that no light or blog postings can escape.

But during my hiatus from commentary, I did have time to "read" Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. I use quotes because it was via audio book during my commute. Given the sleep deprived state I often found myself in while listening, I think it sunk deeper into my subconscious.

For some time, I have given my RedMaryland colleague Mark Newgent a hard time for his mancrush on Jonah Goldberg. We are talking about a guy who seriously considered naming his son Jonah and appeared to be "physically excited" when he heard of Mr. Goldberg's visit to a recent Maryland Young Republican event.

But arriving late to the party and having read Mr. Golberg's triumphal work on the origins of modern liberalism and its close familiarity and lineage with 20th century fascism, especially its idolizing American iterations, I am starting the see the point.

If you have not read the book. Do so now. You will never read a more erudite explanation of the sources and nature of modern liberalism than this book. Much will be familiar and understandable but, for me, I have never seen the pieces put together so well.

I found myself often "rereading" (rewinding) to listen to passages repeatedly. I expect I will buy a hardcopy just so that I can highlight, doggear and quote it. I do not foresee myself writing about the latest "crisis" in modern politics without acknowledging Goldberg's salient point that liberals have been looking for the moral equivalent to war to justify a return of the governmental equivalent of Wilson's "War Socialism" of World War I. Economic depression, the War on Poverty, Global Warming and the "Politics of Meaning" have all been noted to serve that purpose to varying degrees of success. Why not then the obesity epidemic, the latest economic slowdown, swine flu or the next crisis to serve that end as well.

Nor do I expect that I will view liberal versus conservative without being reminded of the thorough and systematic contrast Golberg draws between them. The Hegelian, statist totalitarian (as the term is defined by its creator Mussolini) liberal unalterably and diametrically opposed to the individualistic, liberty disposed conservative faithfully defending the classic liberal ideals upon which our country was founded. There is no middle ground in this battle of ying and yang. While Goldberg may attempt to avoid the moral judgment that liberals have bad intentions or that all things liberal are bad, the unmistakable essence of his factual recitation is that liberals and conservatives can never coexist but are eternally at war for the soul of this country. As Lincoln said, we cannot live half free and half slave. We cannot be determined to submit to a Godstate in the name of some false "security" and be the free, industrious people that our founders and forebears were.

So even if the fascism of liberals is as Goldberg says the gentle hug of a nanny state (as described in Brave New World) versus the boot in the face of freedom forever (of Orwell's 1984) we will still but just as unfree.

These ideas are so profound and so much deeper than our modern political discourse seems to allow. How many of our elected officials of any stripe could intelligently converse on overarching principles which guide their view of government and their historical origins and context let alone that of their opponents?

For any conservative, this is a must read.