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As Long as We Remember...

April 26, 2012

Inside MDGOP Party Politics

Chris Cavey

Every once in a while the rest of the world should have a little peak at the underbelly of the Maryland Republican Party. This weekend at Solomon's Island MDGOP will hold its spring convention – an official gathering of the state’s central committees and a bunch of political junkies, like me.


The highlight of most conventions is the training sessions that are offered; they are often varied and almost always have instructors with great credentials. Typically, however, little "business" gets accomplished at any of these conventions. Most of the plenary sessions are vast procedural arguments about rules or by-laws and leave everyone frustrated by lack of corporate accomplishment. And, like all meetings of this ilk, the reports are always long and dull.


However, once every four-year cycle the action centers around the voting for Republican National Convention slots...this is that time.


Members of the State Central Committee will elect 10 at-large delegates and 10 at-large alternate delegates to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa, FL, in August – and everybody wants to go!


The members of the State Central Committee currently have the joy of being lobbied by 81 people for these 20 coveted positions. Yikes! I have been on both sides of this equation and, trust me, it makes for several days of lively pre-convention chatter.


In my 15 years as a voting member, I was twice elected as an at-large delegate, so I understand the internal politics – and all the phone calls it takes to get elected.


In this cycle, just as during Bush '04, McCain '08 and all previous campaigns, the Maryland for Romney Campaign has suggested a slate for the members of the State Central Committee to consider. A broad brush of 20 individuals representing 14 different counties and are evenly divided male and female, with individuals who are leaders in the General Assembly, state party officers, Maryland Federation of Republican Women officers and even those who were on the Primary Election ballot in support of presidential candidates other than Mitt Romney.


Naturally, those not on the suggested slate are disappointed and, as in prior cycles, broad claims of favoritism abound – which spawn volumes of emails and blog posts touting the favoritism of the "Establishment."


I used to think similarly. In 2000 I wanted to be part of the Bush 2000 slate so bad I could taste the Philly Cheese steak – but I was told flatly NO. I was even "advised" not to run against the slate. Yikes, again!


The political world is cyclical. Those in charge are constantly being replaced. There is always an establishment to fight and complain about. You just need to decide if you want to make your mark and I did.


The 2004 National GOP Convention was my four-year goal. With nose to the grindstone and a little more time in the trenches, my spot was earned in 2004. In 2008 I was on the committee that put together the McCain "suggestions" and the State Central Committee elected 16 of those 20 suggested nominees.


Perhaps after 15 or more years and two prior national conventions, I am part of the establishment, even though I am no longer a member of the State Central Committee, not an elected official, MDGOP officer or even a Republican Club president. Perhaps it's my long-term perspective and historical knowledge qualifies me, regardless – I accept the title and am proud of my political accomplishments.


The people on the suggested Romney slate have each certainly earned their nomination. Should Maryland really attend a national convention without the leaders and whips from both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly? Should we leave behind state party officers? Or officers of our Women's Federation?


Of course not – they are an important part of the broad brush of Maryland Republicans. Several of these "establishment" slate nominees were even elected by this same State Central Committee – just 18 months ago to serve as leaders.


Maryland, however, is unique within the Romney national delegate campaign structure. We have included on our "suggested" slate nine people who supported other presidential candidates. Why? Because they deserve nomination and they reached out to Maryland's Team Romney, prior to the deadline, with a desire to unify our party – a wonderful gesture on their part... and a good political move.


Bottom line is regardless of the suggestions by Maryland Team Romney, or that of any other slate of candidates, the State Central Committee, in its infinite wisdom, will vote for whomever they so desire with no coercion or arm-twisting. The winners of the election this Saturday will have the opportunity to pay several thousand dollars for their trip to the RNC Convention in Tampa and will be welcomed and valuable members of Maryland's convention delegation.


Republicans in Maryland are in the minority and we know it. The inside baseball of party politics is watched by very few outside the circle of people who will gather on Saturday, because, from the public's perspective, it is difficult to sort through the weeds of political banter.


I would think too, most registered Republicans in Maryland would think that all members of the State Central Committee are members of the" establishment” – and they would be right.


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