Monday, November 24, 2008

Maryland Republican Party Going Forward

In two years, the state of Maryland will go to the polls for statewide elections for Governor, General Assembly and a raft of county and local races. There are many reasons for the Old Line state to be feeling down about the 2008 election. Some of the reasons have been put forth by David Marks of Inside Charm City in this post.
Maryland Republicans are feeling quite blue these days.

Not only did Democrat Barack Obama carry Maryland by 25 points, but his victory spilled way beyond the “Big Three” jurisdictions that anchor Democratic wins in the state. Baltimore City, Montgomery, and Prince Georges Counties delivered massive margins, as expected, with some precincts reminiscent of the 95 or 97 percent wins you would see in Soviet Russia. But the blue Democratic tide washed into Charles, Howard, and Baltimore Counties, and almost Frederick and Kent Counties.

In 2002, Republican Bob Ehrlich turned Maryland’s political establishment upside-down by winning the governor’s race, thanks largely to huge numbers in 20 of the state’s 23 jurisdictions. Today, the 20 Republican-leaning counties have become 16 or 17. The 2008 election shows that transplants from the “Big Three” are filling up the rest of the state.
I will tend to agree about the latter assertion as Frederick County, at least lower Frederick, is becoming Montgomery County North in many respects.

Marks then makes these points:
The Maryland Republican Party is back to where it was in the early 1980s, scrambling to rebuild. They might concentrate first on the races where they can win. Even with the Obama landslide throughout Maryland, there were large pockets of suburban Baltimore where McCain won by 60 percent or higher. Many of these places—communities like Perry Hall, Timonium, and eastern Baltimore and Harford Counties—have Democratic incumbents.

Republicans need to develop an alternative vision for where they would lead this state. They cannot simply be “against” the Democrats. That vision should start with criticism of unnecessary spending and taxes (it wasn’t the Republicans who raised sales taxes by 20 percent as the state slid into a recession). But Republicans should also propose how they would reorganize and reprioritize the functions of government.
This has long been the problem in Maryland, as well as just basic organizing principles (for example, in over 10 years as a registered Republican in this state, I have never once, not once, been asked for money--not that I have a lot of money to give, but I do have time, energy and knowledge instead. But not even a solicitation for $10--that is a problem). But putting the organizational matters aside, Maryland Republicans have never really, even under Ehrlich, established an announced alternative for running Maryland and presented it to voters on a regular and consistent basis.

Some basic principles:

1. We must first look at the functions government MUST do. This would fall into the police, public safety, public construction projects for NECESSARY purposes. Now I know that there are a lot of functions that state government currently fulfills, but the list of absolute MUST do list of functions is actually quite small. Everything else is an add-on and should be added on sparingly and dropped the minute revenues don't match expectations. The problem of course is that everyone thinks their "add-on" is a must do item, and it just ain't so.

2. The rule of law must prevail and must be the same in all locations. This seems odd, right, but there are jurisdictions who enforce the law in some regards while neighboring jurisdictions don't. Case in point, Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins recently called Montgomery Couty at "sanctuary county." Jenkins enforces the law with regard to illegal immigration, while Montgomery County flaunts the idea that illegal immigration is a problem. The result is a diametrically opposed view to the law. The law is the law and it should be enforced equally everywhere in the state.

3. Encoruage entrepenuership. Why is it that leaders in Annapolis don't understand the basic concept that jobs are created by businesses and the businesses that create the most jobs are small businesses. We should be doing more to encourage businesses of all sizes to come to Maryland, through tax savings and the like.

4. Lower taxes and less regulation. This is a core belief that I think the Maryland GOP does a very poor job speaking about on a regular basis. Everytime someone in the General Assembly or the Governor's office proposes a new regulation or a new tax or fee, there has to be a response by the GOP challenging the necessity of the new tax and suggesting an alternative like cutting spending in a program, or eliminiation of another tax. There has to be more onus put on the Democrats for justifying taking even more money from the taxpayer.

Start with the Maryland Budget and begin working on what the GOP priority list would be. Announce that priority list and begin sticking to it. Don't try and figure out what the public wants to hear (another problem with parties these days). Simply keep putting the idea out there, pushing and talking about it. Maryland is one of the most educated states in America, start talking to the people like they are smart and you will start to see movement, I guarantee it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Question B on property tax relief passed in Montgomery County despite the opposition of all elected Democrats. Give Robin Ficker some credit on this one. B passed in legislative districts 14, 15, 17, 19, and 39.