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As Long as We Remember...

December 7, 2006

Back To The Past

Chris Cavey

The lamentations over the demise of the Republican Party in Maryland are a media-driven hyperbole. The event to watch now will be the power struggles within The Democratic Party as it steers the citizens of Maryland on a path to promised bigger - and more expensive - government.

It would appear that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. is conducting an orderly exit from office. He has placed his most trusted advisor, his chief of staff, in charge of the transition. No one expects less than a classy exit from an administration which did what any good steward should - leave the situation better than you found it when you arrived.

And, as expected, Republican legislators and party leaders are conducting their quadrennial change of officers. Transitioning from a governor as head of the party to team management will happen easily and quickly. Goals have not changed and party leaders are focused.

The media, however, is looking for the weak link in Republican leadership and direction. It needs to exacerbate some fault on which to pin election losses and have a point to later reference the public's thoughts. The difficulty is the party they are examining is not the Republican Party of 1998.

This is a new party which tasted governance of a state for the first time in 36 years, and did a good job. Legislators under Governor Ehrlich had different experiences than previous legislators and they are wiser for that familiarity. Observations made and lessons learned as the majority party will not be forgotten. The Republican Party gained knowledge over the past four years.

Conversely, the jury is out on the upcoming round of total Democrat control of our fair state. Will those in charge revert to the old ways of domination and bullying? Will there be intra-party struggles to see whether the executive or legislative branch has the most control? Either way, Democrats will certainly forget their party apparatus.again.

Under the pre-2002 Democrat dominance I always believed the worst job in Maryland was the chairman of the Democratic Party. Rarely did you hear about this person - unless, of course, they were "carrying the water" for a thought or idea elected leaders did not want to touch. They were so far out of the public eye and so unimportant to elected leaders that Democratic Party headquarters is a basement office in Annapolis, a public relations fact that speaks volumes of "party importance."

Single party domination in Annapolis will once again be the rule. Governor-elect Martin O'Malley will shortly see the power and arm-twisting ability of the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate. The honeymoon will be short as the "outsider" from Baltimore takes the executive office in the State House and realizes the pecking order in Annapolis.

Mr. O'Malley had his campaign promises removed from his website very quickly after he won election. This was not a confidence builder for using them as future administration goals.

One of the first discussions with the press was about the need for more revenue. He owes many liberal and fringe groups for his election. The question is whether the leaders of the legislative branch will lower themselves to fulfill O'Malley's promises?

Either way it is the same old game of power struggle in Annapolis, except this time it is once again an intra-party match. Republicans will have an easy time drawing contrasts. Republicans will have facts and figures to make comparisons. Republicans will be able to firmly and intelligently point to broken promises and new taxes.

The unanswered questions will be: How high will the cost of government and the tax burden climb in Maryland and who will later shoulder the blame?

Only time will tell.

(Editor's Note: Mr. Cavey was elected first vice chair of the Maryland Republican Party last Saturday.)

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