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As Long as We Remember...

October 3, 2008

Independent Rick Weldon

Roy Meachum

The only times fellow columnist Rick Weldon and I disagreed were when he stepped in the mud pie of partisan politics. Didn't happen often. He was not the sort of human being to give up reason for the sake of one party or the other. Especially in Maryland.


Knowing and admiring the delegate for several years, I found such statements disturbing; they didn't sound or feel like the guy I knew. In my 24 years writing a column in Frederick, I tried to be equally critical of Democrats and Republicans. I supported a candidate as I perceived the individual. That does not mean the winners received backing.


In her very first campaign, I enthusiastically endorsed Jennifer Dougherty. She did not become mayor that time around: 1989.


When Fran Baker ran against incumbent Jim Grimes, I wanted her to win, and said so in the press. She lost. Once Brunswick boy Weldon demonstrated his talents and capabilities, he was The Man. His affiliation could not have mattered less, as the expression goes.


Now the chair of the Frederick County Delegation to the General Assembly, Rick stood at City Hall and proclaimed what I've generally known all along: casting off all ties to the GOP and snubbing the Democrats and he is now an independent. Except for the occasional moments mentioned above, Delegate Weldon always was.


As readers know, he deploys reasoning in all political regions. While getting a fix on whom he wanted to grow up to be as a civil servant, Rick went along rather than robustly endorse things done because of the party line. He was a politician, after all.


Especially in Maryland, elections are not handed out; to win you must have support, and that means money. Without looking at required financial filings, I live with the impression Rick raked in enough money to pay campaign bills, little more. His other means of support, namely campaign workers, came around because of his integrity and intelligence. He registered Republican and that may have helped, in this county, not this state. He wanted approval of the local electorate; that was before the announcement earlier this year he would not stand again for office.


Since New Deal times, Maryland's many minorities have clung to the Democratic banner. When voters rarely decided to go with the GOP, it was chiefly because their party let them down. Choosing the wrong candidate was one way. In Kathleen Kennedy Townsend's year, she lost because the state's Good Ol' Boys didn't trust her. She was both female and a Kennedy; they were frightened by her, as I wrote at the time.


Rick Weldon's faith in the GOP may have faltered when Congressman Curt Weldon fell from office – and from grace. To say he had a daughter who was a lobbyist doesn't begin to tell the story. In the pride ancient Greeks warned against, Rick's uncle paraded questionable affiliations out in public.


The congressman turned up once in Frederick as the result of the younger Weldon's request: I was there. Frankly, I thought the elder Weldon was too full of himself. I never said so to my friend, the former Republican.


In fact, we have not talked for months; a crossed scheduling prevented my attendance at City Hall Tuesday. We communicate by Email – and seldom. All of the above amounts entirely to speculation. I sympathize completely with his given reason. In my view, political parties breed more public evil that benefit. I've long thought both Republicans and Democrats should be independent and let them form coalitions based on issues. Not labels.


As for me, I am both a liberal and a conservative, as readers know. I am a born-Democrat and to change that would be as meaningless as wearing a wig or shaving my beard.


But I can admire very much what fellow columnist Rick Weldon did this week. Now I've said so.


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