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Maryland Republicans and the bare-knuckle brawl for irrelevancy

The Maryland Republican Party's actions of late have many wondering if the wheels have finally come off the bus
The Maryland Republican Party's actions of late have many wondering if the wheels have finally come off the bus
AP Photo

Perhaps you didn’t notice given the vehicle has been out in the yard and up on cinder blocks for years, but during the past week or so the last rusted wheel may have finally fallen off the Maryland Republican Party bus.
In case you missed it, or don’t care, or are perhaps a registered Democrat who couldn’t read the news through your tears of laughter, just about everything that could go wrong did indeed go wrong for the Fee State’s feebly bungling Red Team.
First, MDGOP Executive Director David Ferguson (he of the post 2012-election release touting Republican ‘successes’) tosses his hands in the air, and props to a Red Maryland stalwart for this one, does his best Eric Cartman impression and says, “Screw you guys, I’m going home.”
This happens the day after Del. Don Dwyer (R – Anne Arundel) was slapped, attacked by a dog and thrown in a river by an alleged PCP-using neighbor and the day before Del. Don Dwyer gets arrested for an alleged DUI while awaiting sentencing for a previous drunk-while-boating charge.
The waning days of August have also seen an Eastern Shore Republican – Sen. Richard Colburn (R – Caroline, Dorchester,Talbot, Wicomico Counties) – called out for reimbursing himself with campaign cash - to the tune of 40 Large, and for things such as flowers and meals and lodging and Orioles’ tickets.
Shocking it’s not – even the part where he expenses six-bucks worth of newspapers he picked up at the Wawa – because we already know that elected officials are damn proficient when it comes to spending other people’s money.
And, there’s a gray area in election law (who knew?) that says campaign funds are supposed to be spent for the purpose of re-election.
So, as long as Sen. Colburn can tie those convenience store “Hoagiefest” sandwiches to his bid to hold on to his senate seat, he’s done nothing illegal.
He just added more rust to those rims – especially since the mainstream media can latch on, make it a story, and ignore the same behavior that is practiced by all the democrats in that Cistern by the Severn.
Which brings the sordid seven-plus days to their most ignominious event, the District 36 mud-wrasslin’ match.
If you haven’t observed either of the three rings in this Barnum & Bailey road show, a primer: Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who packed his stuff and headed for more welcoming surroundings, vacated his senate seat a month ago, leaving the party, or more specifically, four central committees to find a replacement.
Pipkin was so beloved – especially for his lively, intelligent debating skills - that even liberal stalwarts such as Senate President Mike Miller (D – Calvert, Prince George’s Counties) and Sen. Jamie Raskin (D – Montgomery County) sang his praises.
The void caused by Pipkin’s sudden departure left numerous candidates – 358, at last count, I believe – scrambling for central committee blessings for the occupation of said seat.
Among the stampede were Del. Mike Smigiel (R – Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s Counties and the presumed favorite), Del. Steve Hershey (R – Caroline, Cecil, Kent, Queen Anne’s Counties), former delegate Richard Sossi, Institute of Liberty President and activist Andrew Langer, a member of a county planning commission, a Centreville town councilman, and the guy who sells crabs out of his truck on Washington Avenue in Chestertown.
Last week, in a move that surprised only those who didn’t believe that the ghost of Bob and Kendel was still haunting the party, former Erlichite, Bowie mayor and former MDGOP chair Audrey Scott emerged as the frontrunner.
Cue the frustrated, flabbergasted, and stunned.
Scott, we would later learn, was the choice of the “establishment” Republicans (you know, the ones who haven’t won a meaningful election in this state in decades), including Maryland’s lone R Team national office holder (Congressman Andy Harris) and current MDGOP chair Diana Waterman.
You know Diana, she was chosen to run the party in the same effective manner as Alex Mooney and, coincidentally, Audrey Scott.
See, Diana Waterman is perceived to have what is arguably the second worse job in the lower 48 – Michael Moore’s back-shaver being number one.
The party she guides has won one statewide election since the Spanish-American War. Majority Democratic Party voters in the state outnumber the minority party by more than 2-1, but it might as well be 50-1 given how poorly Republicans perform up-and-down the I-95 corridor.
“There are not enough Republicans out there that we can be in separate groups,” the newly-elected chair said in April, just before she embarked on the same tired policies that divided those groups into even more disparate factions.
Yeah, the job sucks – we get that – but those who have previously occupied the office, as well as the backroom “big boys (and girls)” that still steer the party from the shadows and the sycophants who still march to their orders have made the position even, well, suckier.
So, once called out via a Mt Vesuvius-like eruption, the lickspittlers recanted, hid from their behind-the-scenes arm-twisting, and sent Audrey Scott back to the glue factory.
By then, however, the damage had been done, as good people – damn good people, like Del. Smigiel and Del. Hershey – ended up with the stink of the MDGOP all over them.
Before the Scott smoke-screen had settled, numerous potential candidates had reached new lows, whining, moaning and crying about how they were wronged by the system.
It wasn’t the system, it was the machine – well, tinker-toy, because when it comes to MD Republicans they don’t have the stature to be considered a machine.
With or without Scott’s name in the hat, the remaining candidates then began stepping all over each other like a horde of ravers trying to get to the last tab of ecstacy.
And for what? The right to sit as one of 12 warm bodies in a senate that has effectively opposed nothing for decades?
And by the time someone actually runs for, and perhaps wins the election for that seat, that 12 could easily be 10 – or less.
Waging internal war for one seat in one district that has been reliably conservative for years?
Ah, but therein lies the threat: it could turn blue and go to a Democrat in 2014.
Well, let the lords of the universe protect us from that fiasco; it could finally give the Democrats in Maryland their long-awaited chokehold on power in the General Assembly.
Look, I think most anyone who considers themselves in opposition to the one-party rule in Maryland will agree that Sen. Pipkin was a stand-up guy. A fighter, one who has a great back story of hailing from a blue-collar family, succeeding in business and eventually becoming a force in politics.
He’s a good guy – but, save for impressing his colleagues and constituents with his oratory, principles and fortitude, what were his legislative accomplishments?
Pipkin was out front against tax and fee increases, the war on rural Maryland, the wind farm, the gun-grab, fees, land-grabs and property-rights violations – noble positions all. But the Democrats won all the battles.
It may be a bit of a stretch, but let’s be honest here – Pipkin had the same job as a heckler at a comedy club.
For Maryland Democrats, the state’s opposition party remains the gift that keeps on giving. Central committees are insulting sitting delegates; delegates are attacking each other; everyone is focusing on a central committee leader and her job working for one of the delegates; and all of the characters are now serving as Bozo the Clown Bop Bags for fellow Republicans and will soon read about their antics in the Democrat cheerleader papers when the campaign begins in earnest next spring.
The point is, the Maryland Republican Party has been reduced to defining “significant achievement” as ascending to the position of most recognizable Democrat-antagonist in the Assembly.
Have the events and process in the 36th filled anyone with trust that this party knows what it’s doing? Maryland Republicans have just demonstrated that they can find a way to lose even when there is no competition.What is the prize here? A seat in a chamber that voted with the Democrats on almost 87% of the 690 bills signed last session by Gov. O’Malley – oh, and 599 of them had three or fewer nay votes – now would be a good time to reiterate that there were 12 republicans in the senate last session.
Do those involved want different license plate and a bigger office in Annapolis?
Are there hopes to parlay the appointment into a full-time toothless adversary position after the 2014 election?
Any citizen of Maryland who has had it up to their well-spelunked pockets wants a strong, vibrant and relevant opposition party – and there are untold numbers who don’t care if it’s the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Tupperware Party.
The sooner some entity – any entity - sorts itself out and provides a credible opposition to the Democrats the better for all of us – including our friends on the left whose bank accounts are just as empty as ours – well, save for the union leaders and cronies and appointees, and, well, you get the picture…
But right now, and in its current incarnation, the only thing the Maryland Republican Party has learned from history is that they never learn anything from history.
As it currently stands, with the central committee votes evenly split between two delegates, Martin O’Malley and Maryland Democrats will once again have their way with the opposition party, because as a result of the current kerfuffle, the Guv’nuh gets to choose the next senator.
Business as usual, I suppose, but by now, you’d think, it’s a position in which the Republicans are quite comfortable.

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