Posted by: Ann Corcoran | November 28, 2011

Will MD GOP (again!) become divided by unfair primary campaign tactics?

I’m cringing myself at the use of the word “unfair” in the title I’ve assigned to this post.  I know that politics isn’t “bean bag” as the expression goes, but the MD GOP seems to frequently shoot itself in the foot by tactics in primaries that do appear to be simply unfair.   Here I am talking about an incident that allegedly occurred at the meeting of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women in Hagerstown earlier this month.

And, before I give you the account (below) from an anonymous reader of what reportedly occurred, let me say at the outset that everyone is entitled to run in a party primary and no one earns the right to go unchallenged (that applied to Ehrlich in 2010 as well!).   Each contender for the Party’s nomination should be treated with respect and given every opportunity to present his or her positions on the issues (this isn’t a popularity contest for the cool kid—we aren’t voting for prom queen or king here).  In the end, Republican voters decide at the ballot box.

Here then is a guest column from an attendee at the MFRW Convention in Hagerstown, suggesting that perhaps we are about to relive the Ehrlich/Murphy Rule 11 controversy, albeit this incident does not carry the weight of that decision by Audrey Scott and others to begin funding the Ehrlich campaign before the primary—a decision that without a doubt divided the party perhaps irreparably.

Anyone who was at the MFRW convention (I was not there) and observed what happened is welcome to post comments either in agreement or disagreement with this report, or send a column of your own.

Blatant Bias—or Scott Scorching

A number of people witnessed uncalled and unplanned blatant bias in a competitive race for the U.S. Senate at the MFRW Convention in Hagerstown.

Dan Bongino was invited as a featured speaker at the MFRW luncheon.* He arrived with a minimal crew and behaved in a low-key manner (appropriate to the setting). His remarks were appropriately directed toward the need for additional Republican representation in Congress and specifically the need for more conservative values. He was very well received.

The delegates to the convention, as well as leadership, were in another room engaged in a business meeting prior to lunch. When folks arrived at the ballroom for the luncheon, we discovered that the Lawrence Scott (political consultant) elves had been at work transforming the room planned for a tasteful luncheon into a rally site for yet another candidate. The elves had placed, presumably without permission, a HUGE banner for their candidate high on the wall directly behind the podium. They also had placed campaign materials at every table.

As it turned out, invited guest Dan Bongino had to speak in front of his opponent’s HUGE banner the entire time.

Also, while Dan spoke, a former Anne Arundel County Council female candidate constantly criss-crossed in front of him placing an additional palm card for the Scott candidate in front of every delegate manager. She returned to the Scott table in time for her candidate to speak. It is unclear whether this other senatorial candidate was invited to speak. Originally, only Dan was to speak.

At the luncheon Audrey Scott was introduced as our immediate past state GOP chair and was applauded as such. She took the podium, said “isn’t it nice that we have TWO candidates for the US Senate?” But then she launched into full campaign rally mode. She said something to the effect that “this young man (Bongino) is very nice “but then said: “But I will be supporting ‘so and so’ for Senate because he has what it takes…”

She performed at her fist-pumping, loud-voiced best. Audrey (and her son Lawrence) turned the MFRW lovely luncheon into a rally for their Primary Election preference. It was apparent that the ladies at most tables were horrified. Hands flew to mouths, gasps were uttered, and the words “What is she DOING!” were heard again and again. They were furious by the time it was over.

Does Richard Douglas know these tactics hurt his chances?

Although our writer does not mention who Scott’s candidate is, we will.  Scott’s (and I assume her son’s) candidate is Richard Douglas—we reported that, here, on November 3rd.    I’ve met Douglas and he seems a very capable candidate and decent fellow and he is welcome to join the race with the six or eight other candidates already in (Yes, Ms. Scott there are more than two candidates in the race), but frankly these tactics (if accurately reported above) will serve only to damage Mr. Douglas who may be completely unaware of the 2010 primary controversy that caused a bitter divide in the MD GOP.

I also wonder if Mr. Douglas is aware of Lawrence Scott’s reputation as a “slash and burn” campaign strategist reported here by Greg Kline in 2009 at Red Maryland (emphasis mine):

Because as we have documented here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, her son Lawrence Scott is recognized as one of the most divisive forces within Maryland Republican politics. Mr. Scott is well know for his questionable tactics in his work for various Republican primary campaigns. Among these are assertions of false endorsements via robocall and misleading signs at polling places, allegations that he supported multiple candidates in the same primary and his misleading use of a fundraising entity (that ended up spending over eighty cents on every dollar for expenses and self promotion without giving a dime to GOP candidates, its expressed purpose). One senior MDGOP official told me he was a “purveyor of slash and burn politics”. Republican primary slash and burn politics by the way.   [Read the whole article to follow links—ed].

Indeed where are the MD GOP leaders?  Some senior MD GOP official should soon put a stop to this propensity for the supposed admired in MD Republican circles to be so willing to ‘eat their own.’  Frankly, on what side is Scott on?

If you are wondering why the MD GOP gets no where, and the Tea Party continues to rise—here, above, is your answer.  Who in their right mind wants to be associated with sharks in our own ranks?  We will be facing legitimate sharks soon enough and they are called Democrats.

* In retrospect, the MFRW should have invited all the Senate candidates as MD CAN did here and given each one a brief time to make their pitches to the group.  Four candidates did participate at MD CAN, all were invited but Douglas chose not to attend.


  1. While I am aware that this could get down right nasty and turn into another Ehrlich/Murphy debacle I actually wonder if that will be tolerated this time around. Bongino has already been working the clubs for over 6 months and has already amassed a decent foothold with them.
    Douglas had a previous family trip scheduled for the MD CAN conference, but did not take us up on the offer to have a 2-3 minute speech read. He will have to cover a whole lot of ground and do it quick. Most clubs I don’t think will even meet over the next month and then many will have elections in Jan for local club leadership.
    Douglas may be a decent candidate, but he has not given himself enough time to run a good campaign with or without the slash and burn. Unless the Scott’s have a gold mine up their somethings they are going to have a hard time catching up to Dan. Who is the man I am going to support!

  2. Audrey and Lawrence are their own worst enemies. I have heard many people say they like Rich Douglas’s experience and stand on the issues, but will not get involved in a campaign that involves those two, especialy given the Ehrlich/Murphy grudgematch implications.

    • Agreed, and it’s too bad for Douglas that others might also be seeing a grudge match likelihood here too.

  3. […] These endorsements aren’t completely surprising, though. Bongino has been cultivating the support of the TEA Party audience that Rutledge won over two years ago, and Red Maryland has somewhat of an anti-establishment viewpoint when it comes to Maryland GOP politics. Fairly or not, Rich Douglas is perceived as the choice of the GOP old guard. […]

  4. […] but I think the comparison is good. And say what you will about Andrew Langer, Rich Douglas has his overzealous supporters as well. Perhaps Rich could have verified this a little earlier, but when you get a fax receipt and […]

  5. […] Murphy’s US Senate candidate, Dan Bongino, before the Maryland Federation of Republican Women shocking attendees with her […]

  6. […] right to do so, but one has to ponder how much she will back other candidates in the race now that her choices lost – particularly when the perception his victory is “impossible” could damage […]

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