Because I'm a sucker for any Baltimore Sun story following the tail of a blog post, with attribution, I wanted to share this article by Michael Dresser about the blame being placed on GOP State Chairman Alex Mooney subsequent to the blanket defeat of all GOP ballot initiatives and Representative Roscoe Bartlett. The story behind the story is the power and influence of the Red Maryland blog, authored by influential Republicans in their own right.
Even for an ultra-blue state, it was a bad showing for the GOP. MDPetitions.com and the ability to leverage the Internet to get controversial laws on the ballot appeared to be a new weapon in the arsenal of an out-numbered and out-moneyed GOP. There was, and still is, reason to think that the existence of MDPetitions alone would make the Democratic majority a little more gun-shy with their power and potentially give the GOP a seat at the table for important pieces of legislation.
That was wrong. Democrats swept all four questions (with expanded gambling being a borderline GOP issue, but still another opportunity to trip up the party in power). Yes on same-sex marriage. Yes on the DREAM Act. Yes on Expanded Gambling. Yes on Redistricting. The last would seem to present the greatest opportunity for success, with our redistricting maps receiving nation-wide coverage for their obscenity.
The accusations from Red Maryland and others are that Mooney spent so much time on Roscoe Bartlett's re-election campaign that he took his eye off the ball on the referenda questions, setting the GOP up for embarrassment without every fielding a team. Mooney is accused of focusing on the Congressional seat as a means to prepare his own run after Bartlett retires.
Some of the counter-arguments are interesting. One is that MDPetitions put too much on the Republican plate. Why fight four battles and lose when it would be easier to win one? Was the GOP forced to dance for too many fiddlers instead of building a single coalition against the vote on same-sex marriage? Shouldn't the entire focus this year have been on redistricting, which puts a ten year hold on a 7-1 D to R Congressional delegation?
Another argument is that the local central committees are to blame for stepping out of line with the State Party and "opting out" of certain questions. As I've noted earlier, the HoCo GOP decided not to take a position on same-sex marriage this election. I applaud them for it, but others would say that they are treating the Party like a Chinese take-out menu when the only purpose of the Central Committee is to tow the party line.
Overall, I think that when any organization has a year like the Maryland GOP's 2012, you have to look at personnel and future prospects. If Mooney has set the party up for a great run in local elections come 2014, then 2012 can be dismissed as an aberration caused by too many balls in the air. If the party is in the same spot as it was in 2010, you need to move on. To the extent there were too many ballot questions, that is a failure in leadership. To the extent the Central Committees fulfilled their federalist ideology, that is a failure in leadership.
Bloggers are often dismissed as stone-throwing basement dwellers, but the folks at Red Maryland are party stalwarts who have a laser focus on the most important issue when deciding a Chairman - the success of the Republican Party.
Maryland Republicans hold their State Convention in Howard County starting this Friday. We will provide the back-drop for a very important meeting about the future and structure of the GOP in exile. They aren't busy governing, which gives them plenty of time to think.