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Crawling from the wreckage of Alex Mooney’s Maryland Republican Party

Since the resounding election defeat MD Republicans are calling for Mooney's resignation
Since the resounding election defeat MD Republicans are calling for Mooney's resignation msa.md.gov

Ours is a world chock-full of stuff worthy of constant ridicule - Donald Trump’s hair, Honey-Boo-Boo’s family, Dick Morris, and fans of “Twilight” whose age doesn’t end in ‘teen’ come immediately to mind.
Then there’s a sub-sect of mock-worthy that is oft-times so pathetic and feeble that it almost feels as if additional scorn and derision is not only cruel, but would certainly supply those doing the belittling with a guaranteed afterlife membership in the fiery depths of hell.
Almost…
Fresh off a beating that makes baby seal clubbing look humane, the Maryland Republican Party – or what’s left of it – is in full mop-up mode desperately trying to convince both its members and the public at large that it is not as dead as Monty Python’s parrot.
“Look, matey, I know a dead party when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.”
“No, no it's not dead, it's, it's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Maryland Red, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!”
“The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.”
Sadly, the only Maryland Republicans who don’t know the extent of that stone-deadness are the folks operating the defibrillator.
Before Election Night drew to a close the MDGOP issued a press release that opened with the following: “The Maryland Republican Party continues to make progress across-the-board and we appreciate the time, treasure, and talent our volunteers have put forward this year as we shape a strong foundation for our future.”
Really? The U.S. Senate candidate, Dan Bongino (bless his patriot heart) collected just 27-percent of the vote against incumbent Ben Cardin, and it was the worst total by a Republican seeking said seat ever.
Yes, there was a third candidate in the race, but the only way ‘Independent’ Rob Sobhani could have been perceived as a bigger clown is if he had campaigned in the big orange shoes.
And yet the Dead Parrot fought back with all the tenacity of, well, a dead parrot.
Also, a coalition of Republicans, Democrats and Independents – driven by the right-leaning MDPetitons.com – was able to place three ballot measures before voters thanks to an impressive array of signature collection efforts. And then all three referendums were resoundingly approved thanks to a well-financed, get-out-the-vote campaign waged by supporters of in-state tuition for illegals and same-sex marriage.
Hell, you can’t be accused of dropping the ball when you never bother to pick it up.
We’ll extend a mulligan for the gerrymandering referendum because let’s face it: your average Maryland voter thinks re-district-ing means going back to Georgetown for another pub crawl.
And then there’s ten-term Republican incumbent Congressional seat-filler Roscoe Bartlett, who was smoked like a doob at a Dead show courtesy of strong opposition (Democrat victor John Delaney who won by 20 percentage points), semi-effective gerrymandering (Washington County went Delaney anyway) and for uttering idiocies that somehow tied student loans to the Nazi Holocaust.
Roscoe, however, blamed – among other things – not only the gerrymandering but also campaign financing by claiming, “[we] just did not have the money to drive the message.”
This from a man that not only had $1.1 million to work with, but also benefitted from a personal relationship – that some would describe as ethically-challenged – with the Red Party’s head honcho.
This brings us to one Alex P. Mooney – current chairman of the MDGOP and no stranger to Roscoe Bartlett or his campaign cash.
Mooney, whose ears must be burning daily given all the calls for his resignation, has been the target of grumblings and rumblings since he ascended to the chair position a scant two years ago. Granted, the former State Senator took over a party that the previous chair, Audrey Scott, had rocketed toward the ground like a Lawn Dart, but his term thus far can best be described as ‘tolerated’ rather than championed.
And, for the most part, the on-going dissatisfaction is Mooney’s own fault. First came a ridiculous $500,000 fundraising plan – unveiled in late 2010 – that even drew a well deserved pffffft from Mark Newgent of the moderate Red Maryland.
Red Maryland, by the way, is currently playing a prominent role in the hopeful-hoisting of Mooney’s head upon a stick, chastising him – most notably – for doing a “poor job – a job that obviously isn’t [his] first political priority.”
But Red Maryland’s requiem is not without accompaniment. From local PACs to county committees to the very vocal blogosphere, Mooney is also being called out for a little matter of ethics violation charges thanks to raising more than $100,000 for a run at Roscoe Bartlett’s seat, bailing on the candidacy, keeping the cash after filing the paperwork for a run in 2014 and then accepting a position in the office of – ta da! – Roscoe Bartlett.
While all that may sound on the up-and-up – wink wink – the actions violate a U.S. House of Representatives ethics rule that says a congressional staffer may not continue to work for a representative while said staffer is seeking to replace his boss.
Well, quicker than one could say ‘tax dollar abuse’ Mooney took the old ‘what? what?’ stance and copped to the kind of dumb mistake politicians often make: it was a clerical error.
This first of what is now becoming an array of red flags should have been enough to have Mooney’s chairmanship called into question (if not grounds for an out-out dismissal), but once again the toothless MDGOP underlings just smiled and turned the other cheek.
Now, other financial discrepancies are being called into question, and there are numerous activists and local party officials combing through the books, reports and campaign filings looking for other instances of fiscal malfeasance.
Stay tuned for more eye-openers as the firing squad reloads…
For this columnist – and yes, registered Republican (for at least one more day, anyway) – there were two ginormous signs that the state’s Grand Old Party had long passed its expiration date. The first was when word came that volunteers for the Red Team were boarding buses and headed to Pennsylvania to campaign for Mitt Romney (note: National Committee lackey Louis Pope also needs to be called out for his pitiful effort on behalf of Maryland Republicans).
Money and resources that could have put to better use were mismanaged, and had just as much to do with the Democrats’ mauling as the incompetence (or indifference) of the MDGOP.
Bringing Republican strategist Karl Rove in as guest speaker for the party’s “Red, White & Blue” fundraising dinner – which netted a whopping $8,000 – should have also been a signal that the MDGOP is no longer interested in moving forward.
A Party that is trying desperately to shed the notion that Republican is a dirty word does NOT welcome a speaker that contributed mightily to the soiling.
Of course, there are a number of Party faithful who have spoken on Mooney’s behalf, clinging to the mistaken notion that the ‘strides’ the MDGOP has made are notable and questioning whether or not there is a viable replacement waiting in the wings.
Does it matter? Can a neophyte perform any worse than the leadership currently in place? Highly doubtful, and if so then they can take a seat on the out-of-town rail right next to Alex.
After getting stomped like a flaming bag of Halloween prank poo the best the MDGOP can muster is a laughable, self-congratulatory press release that itemized the failures of candidates from Nancy Jacobs to Eric Knowles to Frank Mirabile.
“Of the nearly 280,000 total petition signers, nearly half of the individuals were not registered as Republicans,” the release continued, raising the obvious question that only a handful are willing to ask: then where in the hell was the outreach to those non-affiliated Republicans leading up to the election?
Oh yeah, those volunteers were going door-to-door in Pennsylvania supporting a weak presidential candidate. Did Louis Pope not think that perhaps volunteers from guaranteed Romney states could be effective in Maryland stumping for Bongino, Anthony O’Donnell or Questions 4 and 5?
One need look no further than disgraced and disqualified Democrat candidate Wendy Rosen, and the fact that she collected nearly 30-percent of the vote even though she wasn’t an official candidate on Election Day.
As the Python sketch exclaimed, “This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! 'E's kicked the bucket, 'e's shuffled off 'is mortal coil… this is an ex-parrot!”
It is time to say good-bye, Alex Mooney, even though we hardly knew ye… but we now know ye well enough to show you the door; a door that should have been propped wide open after you decided to play fast and loose with ethics rules.
Who would serve the MDGOP in a more respectable fashion? At this critical moment in its history a dead bird might be just as effective – and at least the laughs wouldn’t be accompanied by such a foreboding sadness.

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