Just Shy of a Perfect 10…
Fresh on the heels of Election Day wins, just two weeks prior, the Maryland Republican Party cinched up their belts, and – with new determination – started their forward march toward Victory 2010 this past weekend. This re-birth has begun, as if by an omen, in dark blue Prince George’s County.
The judges have scored the semi-annual convention of Maryland’s version of GOP a 9.5 on a 10 point scale. It had all the style, pieces and parts needed to pique the interest of the rank and file and to unite the faithful in a rally-style series of events.
The Friday evening programs included a business meeting where county Republican leaders shared their highlights and successes of the past six months, more than an hour of ideas and success stories! They then passed an aggressive and optimistic budget and walked out of the brief session with determined fundraising goals.
Friday also brought out a showing of hospitality suites all designed to attract, thank and interact with the conventioneers. The Senate Minority Caucus, Congressional Candidates Andy Harris and Charles Lollar, the Young Republicans (always ready to party,) outgoing Chairman Jim Pelura and incoming Chairwoman Audrey Scott each hosted all who would visit.
The hit of the evening, however, was the reception hosted by Del. Bob Costa for gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan and former candidate Mike Pappas. The Hogan/Pappas Unity Suite was packed. Hogan signs were plastered on the walls and pictures being taken with him. Meantime Mike Pappas was by Larry’s side urging his supporters to join the Hogan forces – unity was the theme and Friday evening turned into a really nice affair!
The Saturday morning session once again started off with Candidate Hogan hosting everyone for coffee and donuts before the main session of the convention convened. Convention attendance was near record level as the county delegations assembled in the main room to conduct the business of the party.
The first major event of the morning was a surprise visit by former Gov. Bob Ehrlich. He came to rally the troops, give a brief perspective of the election results in Virginia and New Jersey and to introduce the keynote speaker, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett. Dr. Bartlett then kept everyone inspired for 15 minutes with encouragement looking into the GOP future and his wisdom and prediction as to the direction the Party of Lincoln is heading.
Following the Bartlett speech, the business of the party was conducted in an efficient and swift manner. Dr. Pelura had a good-bye speech and the new chair, Audrey Scott, was elected in a landslide. Ms. Scott then had an inspiring and very positive thank you speech. After she was finished, something unheard of happened.
One-by one convention members started writing checks and bringing them to the podium. It was both inspirational and unique at the same moment. Each individually getting a personal thank you, each showing they were committed to do their part toward unification of the party and rebuilding of the treasury.
It was like a scene from a movie. People writing small checks and walking to the front, the first few timidly; and toward the end they came boldly with broad smiles on their faces. This outpouring of commitment continued for almost 10 minutes and instantaneously the Party of Lincoln raised over $4,000 for its renewed goal of Victory in 2010. Afterward a luncheon was held for the newly elected chairwoman, Ms. Scott.
Later, while driving home, I reflected on this distinctive GOP weekend. I knew all goals were accomplished on that day. The Maryland Republican Party walked away from Bowie unified not only with a new chairman but unified in a specific direction – that of future victory.
Everyone on both sides of the aisle understands Maryland’s demographics; it is a tough road for statewide Republican candidates; tough, but not impossible. The Republican faithful know that since 1994 their gubernatorial record is: one win, two losses and a tie.
A political storm is brewing within the citizenry of Maryland in 2010. Last weekend demonstrated that the GOP leadership is serious about the homestretch; they are taking it from deep in Democrat territory, Prince George’s own Bowie, MD, heading toward the goal line.