Posted by: Ann Corcoran | December 12, 2010

MD GOP makes a (pretty) clean break from the Ehrlich machine in choice of Chairman

Update December 15th: Sam Hale recaps the results and explains a controversy involving Brian Murphy that blew up in the wake of the vote, here.

Update 4:  Red Maryland’s report is here.

Update 3: Here is Gus Alzona’s report at Maryland  I had the pleasure of meeting Gus for the first time on Friday night.

Update 2: Be sure to check out the most detailed account of the MDGOP convention I’ve seen so far, here, at Monoblogue.  Michael Swartz has photos too!   Thanks, Michael, for the photo of our MD CAN sign and link to PTPR!

Update: I just realized (while reading other bloggers on the MDGOP convention) that I had one of those famous grilled cheese sandwiches Friday evening in the Renegade Room.  Being pretty new to the MDGOP party scene I had no idea I was in such august company, only that I was starving and the sandwich tasted so good.  See the Renegade Revolution Resolution, here.

I went to the MD GOP convention in Annapolis this weekend and saw the party elect new leadership under (mostly) conservative Alex Mooney of Frederick County that pundits and observers say signals that the party is going to try a more conservative approach than it had this past election when the Bob Ehrlich wing of the party was in control.

However, you will see when you read the articles in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and at Blue Ridge Forum, why I’m puzzled by all the discussion about Mooney’s policy positions when it has been beaten into everyone’s head following the ups and downs (mostly downs) of the party lately that the role of the chairman is to raise money (Mooney is famous for his fundraising abilities) and not to set policy.  Isn’t that the line used to push former chairman Jim Pelura out of the chairmanship—-that he got too involved in policy?   Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the MDGOP setting policy and principles, and I am all for the Ehrlich lock on the party having been broken, but will the moderates once again go for a conservative chairman’s jugular?

Here is the Sun:

Maryland’s Republican Party embraced its base Saturday by selecting reliably conservative Alex X.Mooney as chairman, overlooking the party’s more moderate recent nominee for lieutenant governor.

The result ends the decade-long dominance of the Ehrlich wing of the Republican Party, a faction whose members sought to attract working-class voters and centrist Democrats. Its leader, former Gov. Robert L.Ehrlich, said he would close the book on state politics this year after a bruising 14.5 percentage point loss to Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley in a year when the GOP made national gains.

In his brief acceptance speech Mooney, 39, declared, “Conservative wins. … You just have to stick to it and explain it to people.

“I think we win by not compromising principles,” he said, a nod to conservatives who complain that the party has compromised too many core beliefs to reach for power.

See how the Sun reporter is already laying the groundwork, that Ehrlich was reaching out to centrists and the working class, and then this [mean] conservative is going to stick to principles implying that principles will hurt the working class.   Is she spinning with the help of the Ehrlich faction she talks to?

You can read the rest of the story and the Washington Post story too, here.   For conservatives and Tea Partiers the outcome is much more favorable than had Mary Kane been chosen and we will just wait and see what happens.  Mooney is reportedly tough and personally ambitious so most believe he will not let this new project fail.    But, he has a difficult and challenging time ahead because despite the glowing accounts of how much money Audrey Scott and the party raised this year, they are broke!    And, they won’t have Steele’s infusion of cash from the RNC to fall back on as they did in 2010.

Mooney was a part of the Ehrlich machine himself (in the 2010 election season)

And, it needs to be said (although I am loathe to sound like a wet blanket when everyone is so upbeat), that Mooney may say they need to stick with conservative principles, but when faced with a choice of who to support for governor this last time, Mooney was a staunch supporter of Bob Ehrlich over the much more principled conservative Brian Murphy (Murphy for example was pro-life and Ehrlich was not, Mooney says he is pro-life).  Whether his close relationship with Ehrlich was one of many reasons Mooney was defeated in his race for the Senate seat he had held for several terms, we can’t say for sure. (See this film clip at Montgomery County Daily from the time Mary Kane went to Frederick to hold a fundraiser for Mooney.  I remember that the Murphy team out here in western Maryland questioned that Mooney/Ehrlich close relationship.)

Mooney’s position on one of the hottest issues in the state—illegal immigration— has also been questioned.  Richard Falknor, writing at Blue Ridge Forum discusses that in his report on the convention last evening.

However, I’ll ask again, if the Chairman’s job is to, first and foremost, raise money and not to get into setting policy, his vague position on the issue of immigration may not matter.

Endnote: Some of us Tea Party-minded people won’t be waiting around to see how things shake out with the MDGOP, we will be cheering for them, but we will be encouraging activists to find their roles now and get ready for elections 2012 and 2014 and beyond with an inaugural conservative networking conference open to all conservatives of all stripes—Democrats, Independents and Republicans—a month from now.  See Maryland Conservative Action Network here.


  1. Excellent article!!!! And to the point. It does call into question many of the thoughts I have had on Alex since the primaries began and he didn’t support Brian Murphy in any way shape or form even though it was obvious from the very beginning that Bob was so liberal in comparison. Also, as the general election moved along, questions on illegal immigration cropped up during Alex’s debates and his answers were appalling to this conservative as his answers demonstrated that he is definitely pro-illegal which could be because he himself is Hispanic and so is his wife who knows.

    The other interesting thought about Alex having this position which should concern all members of the 6th Congressional district is that word has it that Alex has had his eye on Roscoe Bartlett’s seat all along. This is where his position on illegals really does matter and we need to vet him during his tenure as GOP Chair and not let his popularity as Chair sway us when it comes time to cast a vote for that seat should he make a run for it in a future year to come. We must never let someone who is soft on illegal immigration be elected to the United States Congress. He may be a very effect fundraiser and that is great, but he doesn’t have my vote for my congressman. That position in my humble opinion should goes to Joe Krystoforski. If you haven’t checked him out go to his website at He ran a fantastic campaign in the primary against Roscoe whom they both respect each other. In my opinion, Joe is like a Paul Ryan for Maryland. He will write policy not just vote correctly. He is a real go getter and really knows his stuff. He campaigned a lot with Brian Murphy and is a strong TEA party candidate. He is against career politicians which unfortunately that is exactly what Alex is. That is all Alex has done since college. Alex is 39 and held his seat for 12 years. Before that he worked for Bartlett. What does that tell you. Career Politician. That is not what the TEA party is about. So for those of you reading this comment please check out Joe and think long and hard about why Alex ran for this seat. Someone high up in the GOP in MD told me how we get our high ranking politicians. She said they come from the legislature or because they have been in the press and get name recognition that way. Well, Alex Mooney sure hit the lottery yesterday with that. He will be in the press a whole heck of a lot as GOP Chair – think about it.

  2. […] of interesting that just as the Ehrlich era is ending in the MDGOP, Ehrlich’s old protege Michael Steele’s era might also be ending at the […]

  3. Hope you enjoyed the Renegade Room, I know I did! Missed out on the grilled cheese, though.

    You bring up a good point about Jim Pelura’s attempt to influence policy. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to do so but in Alex’s case it should not take away from his main duty he ran on: raising money. We in the grassroots can better take care of the policy aspect on an individual basis as long as the party stands by the broad principles of bringing prosperity through limited government and lower taxation.

    Lastly, I appreciate getting to finally meet you and your positive remarks on my coverage – my website is a labor of love and I write best about things I’m passionate about.

    • Michael, I enjoyed meeting you too! I can definitely tell you are passionate and love your work on the blog—it shows!

  4. […] MD Republican Party Convention this past weekend and found it just fascinating.  (My report is here at Potomac Tea Party Report).  MD CAN had a booth and we met some really great people who were […]

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