Posted by: Ann Corcoran | September 1, 2011

Republicans don’t need to take advice from the opposition

Last night when I first read Tamela Baker’s (former reporter and editor of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail) op-ed about the Maryland Republican Party having a death wish, somehow (tired I guess) I missed the extent of the condescending sneer in it, but this morning it’s intolerable.  I don’t know Ms. Baker at all, but am guessing she is not a Republican, but would like us to think she has some superior political insight (a sure sign of a Democrat).

This little bit at the end of ‘Moving further to the right won’t help MD GOP’ tells me all I need to know about Ms. Baker.

Last time the Maryland GOP was so giddy, Bob Ehrlich was governor. Republicans had more seats in the General Assembly, and they believed their party was on the cusp. So they got a little cocky.

Remember how that turned out? I sure do. I happened to be in the room in 2006 when Senate President Mike Miller — arguably the most powerful Democrat in the state — famously declared that in that year’s election,we’re going to bury them face down in the ground, and it’ll be 10 years before they crawl out again.”

Baker seems quite proud to let us know she hangs with the big (mean) boys.  No qualms here about repeating threatening and violent rhetoric!  Indeed! Where is the much vaunted Democrat Party civility?

Now that we have established that Ms. Baker is not offering friendly advice, here is more of her thesis on how she thinks the Republican Party should be running its business.

For readers not familiar with the report that there might be a newer/younger group of Republicans vying for the minority leadership reins in Annapolis, here is Ms. Baker’s version of recent history (we told you about it here in early August):

Earlier this month a friend who lives in another county sent me (and several other people, I suspect) a note asking if we “ever notice that House of Delegates Republicans always seem to form their firing squads in a circle?”

This observation was prompted by a reported coup plot by Del. Nic Kipke, R-Anne Arundel, against House Minority Leader Tony O’Donnell, who represents Calvert and St. Mary’s counties.


But despite their dismal showing in the election just past, they opted to swing further right with the O’Donnell/Shank team.


Fast-forward to 2011, and suddenly Kipke’s decided O’Donnell and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, Shank’s replacement as whip, are just too moderate. Kipke obviously knows O’Donnell a lot better than I do; he always impressed me as being so right-minded he could hardly stand to sit on the left side of a car. Imagine how stunned he must have been to wake up one morning and find he’s not conservative enough. And the real kicker is that the proposed more-conservative whip is Mike Smigiel — the same Mike Smigiel who sought that position with Kach, the moderate, in 2006.  [Readers, today Mike Smigiel is the chairman of the House of Delegates Tea Party Caucus.]


This little brouhaha coupled with the recent selection of uber-right Alex Mooney as state party chairman just begs somebody to ask Republican party leaders a simple and obvious question:

Are you TRYING to self-destruct?

Is it not possible, Ms. Baker, for political winds to shift?  Is it not possible that with Obama in the White House and O’Malley in the State House that Marylanders are heading in a more conservative direction?  Is it not possible that people and elected officials shift their thinking as they mature/or we go broke (you know the old saying: not liberal at twenty, you have no heart, not conservative at forty, you have no brain)?

Are elected officials not permitted to respond to a shift in the political climate? After all, there was no Tea Party grassroots backing for conservatives in 2006.  Are younger or newer delegates or senators never permitted to come up with fresh ideas they would like to implement by challenging the old guard?   Or, does Ms. Baker wish for the Republicans to continue to be “face down in the ground” like the all powerful Mikey (the bully) Miller does?

Ms. Baker’s logic escapes me.  First she tells us that Kipke and Smegiel aren’t that conservative anyway (so how then would the party be shifting rightward?) then throws in all this stuff about the recent successful petition drive on in-state tuition which she says is an issue which cuts across political parties.  On that last point we agree.


That, apparently, is where Neil Parrott comes in.

Kipke, it seems, credits the success of the recent Tuition Petition, spearheaded by Parrott and Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County, with energizing the Republican base. O’Donnell’s great transgression, according to Kipke, was not throwing enough party leadership support onto the petition bandwagon.

There are a couple of problems with this logic, the first of which is that the legislation the petition targets (allowing children of illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates to state schools) was never a party issue in the first place. The bill was so controversial it passed by narrow margins in both the Senate and the House — which means lots of Democrats (including John Donoghue) voted against it. The petition sponsors themselves have boasted about the number of Democrats who signed up. When an issue doesn’t pass the smell test with so many Marylanders, it hardly translates into an exclusively Republican sentiment.

Yes, agreed, it is not exclusively a Republican issue and results of the wildly successful drive tell me anyway that Marylanders are more to the center right then they are to the O-Malley/Obama hard left.

All these contortions (with crocodile tears streaming) that Ms. Baker goes through to warn the Republican Party to not shift further right (if indeed they are) when what is happening is as simple as:  voters are generally getting more conservative (national polls tell us that); the petition drive in Maryland was further proof of a shift in Maryland; Tony O’Donnell misread the mood of Maryland voters on the issue; the Democrat Party has a vested interest in keeping the ‘devils they know’ (the same leaders) in place; and younger/newer delegates want a shot at the leadership to promote new ideas and strategies.

That is politics, not a circular firing squad.



  1. Good post, Ann. I think your second-to-last sentence is the most telling: younger delegates want to promote new ideas and strategies. Many or most of Maryland’s state elected officials have the same mentality as those old-guard Republicans in Congress in 1993. They could not imagine becoming the majority party because they had been in the minority so long, so all their energy went into getting along, and it took the young Newt Gingrich to shake things up and lead the way to a majority in the House. I’m not saying Republicans are going to become a majority in the Maryland legislature, but they have a lot of opportunities to make gains, and they have to develop the mentality that this is possible.

    But liberal media people and politicians could never conceive of a shift to the right among Marylanders. That’s good — they’ll be off their guard, just as the House Democrats were in 1994.

  2. But the Republican Party in Maryland DOES have a death wish. When I went to the polls in the last general election, my ballot had

    One lone Republican candidate for one of eleven county-wide offices
    No Republican candidates for any of the ten other county-wide offices
    No Republican candidate for state senate
    No Republican candidate for any of three delegate seats
    No Republican candidate for county council
    Not even a single Republican candidate for the Republican central committee.

    No party can win elections or even stay alive if it does not even try.

    It doesn’t matter whether GOP candidates are moderate or right or tea party or whatever if their aren’t any GOP candidates.

    The Republican Party doesn’t even try to win in much of Maryland.

    • Well, you are right there Mr. Baker and we even had NO candidate for attorney general to challenge Gansler.

  3. Here is what I fail to understand. I am so disgusted with political labeling that I could throw up; right, left, center, progressive, far right, liberal, moderate, right and left wingnuts, etc., independants, the list goes on and on.

    This is what I think is happening, and neither party understands it, or is intentionally avoiding the issue. The news media, at least the MSN is trying to portray the upcoming election as being about jobs and the economy. The Obama administration seems to have thrown their hat into that senario. And so have the establishment Republicans. What neither party seems to understand is this: Yea, the upcoming election is about jobs and the economy, but they do not seem to understand, or, wish to ignore, whichever the case may be, that its also about way more than that. It’s about freedom, it’s about liberty, its about American exceptionalism, the pursuit of happiness, its about not having government in our faces, in our bedrooms, in our kitchens, in our menus, and in our choice of light bulbs.

    Until government, republican or democrat, right or left, understands that it might not be a good idea to ignore, criticize, and demonize the TEA Parties, they should take a good, hard look into the mirror.

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