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November 15, 2017

You can’t always get what you want…Part 1

Jason Miller

Like it or not, the Frederick City general election was indeed a decisive route for the Frederick County Republican Party. I saw where some of the GOP our candidates offered a portrait of poise and graciousness in defeat.


I was proud to see our candidates behaving in a way that brought credit to them and the Republican Party and the Republican voters of Frederick City.


I was hoping that our Republican candidates would reflect upon their loss as a learning experience and rededicate themselves to understanding what went right, what went wrong, and what could have been done better. My hope was short lived. President John F. Kennedy once said, “Victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan.” So very true.


Recently some of our former Republican candidates are blaming the Frederick County Republican Central Committee (FCRCC) for their loss. One recently launched a whisper campaign of blistering criticism toward the local FCRCC. The criticism made its way to the highest echelons of the Maryland State Republican leadership.


It is true that the FCRCC made some serious blunders, but to say that the failure rests solely on them is to enter a state of post-election denial. I know because I was there. I was serving as the Vice Chairman of the Frederick County Central Committee up until my resignation October 30th.


I loathe hindsight excuses engineered to deflect blame, so let’s call a spade a spade. We need to start at the very beginning of what could have been a winning strategy but turned into the best laid plans of mice and men. I am not a city resident. I am a rural resident and got to watch in dismay as the primary race unfolded.


The Maryland State Republican Party (MDGOP) publicly stated at its spring convention that it intended to aid with municipal races in Frederick City and Annapolis. That said, the Republican Municipal primary in Frederick City would need to be sorted out before the general election. The primary was complicated and muddy from the start on every level. The FCRCC had as its initial priority to find candidates for the city races. This is not unusual because electing Republicans in Frederick County is the reason for FCRCC’s existence.


Mayor Randy McClement made it clear even before his announcement that he would seek reelection. The mayor’s campaign manager was a weekend radio show host and a onetime candidate who ran for the Frederick City Board of Alderman unsuccessfully as a Republican – before switching parties to become a Democrat.


In a move that I personally would not have made, the FCRCC chairman announced on a live radio broadcast his intent to support of Mayor McClement who was also the featured guest on the program. Did I mention that the radio show was also being cohosted by the mayor’s campaign manager? This event happened two days before the Frederick City filing deadline.


The path for Mayoral Candidate Shelley Aloi would present itself in due time. I thought to myself when she filed at the last minute that she would run as an anti-establishment candidate, and I was not disappointed. What disappointed me from the start with Ms. Aloi was the false impression she constantly gave that the FCRCC was collectively out to get her.


This could not be further from the truth. I know this because I met with then Candidate Aloi in person in public on two occasions and told her that I and one other member of the FCRCC were true neutrals and that her belief that all the FCRCC members were against her was false. The first meeting occurred July 6th at a Republican Club meeting following Ms. Aloi’s filing. The second meeting happened on July 16, and I was accompanied by a second Central Committee member.


In the second meeting I expressed my sympathy for her position, but again reassured her that not all the FCRCC members were out to get her. The main point of contention at this meeting was a survey that was to be conducted by the FCRCC in the city to get a prioritization of the issues. Ms. Aloi was concerned that the survey/poll answers would be withheld from her even though she had been promised the results by the FCRCC chairman.


Ms. Aloi was upset because she had not received any input into the creation of the questions for the survey/poll. I and an FCRCC colleague advised Ms. Aloi to stop the anti-FCRCC message and come to an FCRCC meeting and express her concerns directly. In the end, the survey/poll was never conducted, so all the worry was for nothing. I never imagined that she would have asked for the chairman’s resignation. I was ill the night that she addressed the FCRCC and read all about it in the Frederick News-Post (FNP) later in the week.


The August 12 newspaper story was entitled City Notes: Mayoral candidate asks GOP Central Committee chairman to resign alleging unfair endorsement; says he will stay put. The author was Mallory Panuska. One line stood out for me. “Aloi, a former alderwoman, alleged that she approached the committee several times before the filing period even opened, telling them about her desire to run for mayor.”


This is a complete misrepresentation. Ms. Aloi only approached selected members of the FCRCC about her intentions, but at no time did she address the full committee. She failed to gain support from whom she felt were the most influential members of the FCRCC. She never spoke to me personally at all before she filed to run for Frederick City mayor.


Did some FCRCC members support the Mayor? Absolutely! Is that ethically wrong in my opinion? No. Every American has the right to their own opinion especially when it comes to an election. I advocated for strict neutrality in the Frederick City primary race across the board, but that was my individual opinion. Not everyone on the committee withheld their support until after the primary. That is to be reasonably expected.


Here are the facts as I see it about the Frederick City primary race for mayor. Shelley Aloi waited until the last minute to announce. She had no website to start with. Her Facebook page was well done, but lacked any clear-cut policy positions that separated her from the sitting mayor. Her lack of an immediate online presence hindered her race. For a little over a week and a half, she was only offering her phone number if people had questions. Her intent was genuine and her belief in her candidacy showed grit and determination.


Both Republican mayoral candidates had strong performances in the sponsored mayoral primary debate. Soon after, the mayor went into the early voting period without generally being disliked by the Republican residents of Frederick City.


The Republican primary race ended with a victory for Mayor Randy McClement over Ms. Aloi. The mayor ran his race and he won. Ms. Aloi just came up short. I know that wasn’t from lack of trying on her part. I also know the FCRCC was not out to get her as she implied.


Sometimes you can’t always get what you want. It’s happened to me plenty of times.


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