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November 25, 2008

County Democratic Party's Castration Part 1

Roy Meachum

This year marked a quarter century that I resided in Frederick. Someone who arrived later cannot possibly imagine the changes made. Most from the visionary and long-time city Mayor Ron Young. He created Carroll Creek development and modernized downtown streets from the horse and buggy days.


Then Mr. Young was an ex-officio member of the real power in these parts. The Good Ol' Boys marched at the commands of Delegate James E. McClellan. Ron was too erratic and too intelligent to take anybody's orders consistently; the same attributes apply to Galen Clagett. Dr. McClellan's cardinal rule prohibited anyone – man, woman or puppy dog – filing for elected office without his blessing.


The chief legislator did not approve of former County Commissioners' President Republican Anita Stup's bid to join him in the House of Delegates. They had tiffs; she had tears, while still in Winchester Hall. Ms. Stup had serious personal problems with state Sen. Jack Derr's attitude. They were both GOP members. Sure enough, she came along and endorsed – and worked for – another Republican for Jack's seat. The man who done Anita wrong lost!


The part-time veterinarian and full-time politician who ran the county as "boss" took that as an omen; abandoning hopes of reelection, James E. McClellan never sought office again. He retired the same year as Frederick's "other" state senator. Charles Smeltzer welcomed David Brinkley to his former Annapolis suite. Both Mr. Smeltzer and Dr. McClellan considered themselves conservative Democrats. They were less liberal on many issues than most Republicans.


This was in the era when traditionalists/idealists clung to the GOP. FDR had brought a Democratic roll into the county. Still, Frederick habitually chose the particular man or woman, whatever label. The George W. Bush years brought the right rallying, as never before during my time in Frederick. Especially when Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., carted the elephant banner into the State House, the first time it had flown over Annapolis since Spiro Agnew.


Rapidly becoming the county's minority party, after decades of being cock of the walk, Democrats went into a tail-spin; three of the last Frederick mayors have been Republicans although the party trails on the voter registration lists. City Hall's current resident, Jeff Holtzinger, won because primary loser Jennifer Dougherty urged her Democrat followers to vote against Ron Young, who beat her in the primary.


Similarly Ms. Dougherty was snowed under by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, who was supported by many Democrats because they did not appreciate the torpedo job she did on Mr. Young. Ain't politics grand?


Essentially my life-long party has descended into a tea party where feeling warm is more important than winning elections. Commissioner President Jan Gardner, city president pro-tem Marcia Hall, and state Delegate Sue Hecht contributed to Ms. Dougherty's surprise announcement to contest for the Six Congressional District, although each had publicly endorsed Andrew Duck, Dr. Bartlett's challenger in 2006. As you know, the ex-mayor did not improve the party's chances; she merely equaled Mr. Duck's degree of support two years back.


In this year's race, Mr. Duck was shoved aside strictly because of gender; the ladies wanted one of their own and he fogged their view. The identical prevailed in 2002, the year after Ms. Dougherty slid into the mayor's chair. Not understanding the reality of the municipal elections, Sue Hecht stepped down from the delegate's seat and ran against State Sen. Alex Mooney.


Not deterred by the harsh reception, including booing, that erupted when Ms. Hecht appeared with the newly elected Mayor Dougherty, the female politicians' coalition sailed on to this year's disaster when they urged the ex-mayor into the congressional race.


What is missing in the local Democratic Party is a total lack of balance; in the past I have supported Ms. Gardner and Ms. Hecht; I have admired their accomplishments while in office. Not recently.


All the ladies are practicing a bigotry against males that amounts to castration for anyone who opposes them and their agenda. The only agenda that should apply is what is best for the county, never the accrual of power. After all, we've been through aggrandizement when the Good Ol' Boys still loitered on The Square Corner.


Enough already.


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