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An Endangered Species – More Evidence

Streiff’s posting gave the special session behavior of the Republican caucus as an example of how Maryland Republicans are becoming (or have become) an endangered species.

Let’s look at their behavior in and about Prince George’s County.

Prince George’s County has the second worst violent crime record in the state, and the second worst schools in the state. Despite limits on property taxes, the county also has one of the highest tax burdens on individuals.

Who is to blame? Well, if you listen to the rhetoric from elected officials, it is the evil Republicans. (Good ol’ Al Wynn still blames Ronald Reagan for PG’s lousy schools.)

The problem is that there aren’t any Republicans. Every county elected office, every county seat in the Maryland General Assembly, every appointed official, is a Democrat.

And the Maryland and Prince George’s County Republicans apparently believe that is just dandy. They don’t quite say so in as many words, but their actions are very clear. They neither criticize the Democrats’ failings nor offer candidates as an alternative.

I almost didn’t bother voting in the September 26 primary election. There didn’t seem to be much point, except possibly for the school board election. Ehrlich and Steele were certain to win the primary, so my vote wouldn’t really have mattered in those races.

When it came to the local ballot, there was no Republican primary. No Republicans ran for county-wide office. No Republicans ran for senator or delegate in my district. No Republicans ran for county council in my district. There were no Republicans to choose from.

I know registered Republicans who did not vote–because they knew there was no point.

And some of them did not vote in the general election, where the vast majority of partisan offices on the ballot had only one choice–the Democrat.

New, we all know that the odds of a Republican actually winning any of these local offices was pretty slim. But I keep wondering how much the Republican Party’s failure to field candidates in Prince George’s County may have cost Ehrlich and Steele.

I know there are some Republicans–even Blacks and Latinos–in the county.

And I know that there are quite a number of Black Democrats who are unhappy with crime, unhappy with lousy schools, and unhappy with the Maryland Democratic leadership for several reasons, including immigration, gay marriage, abortion, and broken promises.

And I have heard some local activists wish for a two-party system.

I suspect that a number of these people–both Republicans and unhappy Democrats–did not vote in 2006. And I suspect that in the privacy of the voting booth, some of these folks would have voted for Republican alternatives to Jack Johnson, Al Wynn, and other people they detest or see as failures. And I also suspect that some of them who did not bother voting would have voted for Ehrlich and Steele along with Republican alternatives in local offices.

Am I right? And if so, would it have made a difference? We’ll never know.

But what is clear is that the Republican Party made no real effort to get votes in Prince George’s County. I never saw any Republican literature, did not receive a Republican sample ballot, did not see any Republican operatives at the polls. The Republican Party was less visible than the Greens.

Now I see the same thing on the horizon for 2008. Looking again at Prince George’s County, there are two Congressional seats, now held by Hoyer and Wynn, that include the county. So far, two Republicans have filed to run in the primary for each seat. You can find out who they are by going to the state elections web site.

But you won’t find out much if you go to a Republican Party web site. The Maryland GOP site identifies only one of the two Republicans running in Wynn’s district (and only by his last name) and neither of the Republicans running in Hoyer’s district. The Prince George’s GOP site doesn’t list any candidates at all.

Obviously, if the party establishment can’t bother posting even the names of Republican candidates, they are not going to be any help in campaigning for those candidates, or in helping those candidates point out the Democrats’ failures or otherwise spread the Republican message.

Looking ahead to 2010. Every Prince George’s County senator and delegate voted for O’Malley’s tax increase. They ought to be held accountable. In my opinion, beginning the day after each vote, the Prince George’s County Republicans, and anyone with any hope of running as a Republican in 2010, should have been attacking these tax and spend Democrats. The silence has been deafening. I thought about writing to my district’s GOP central committee member, but I found out that the Prince George’s GOP has deleted the names and contact information of central committee members from their web site (and their “News” page has a bad link).

I find it all very depressing. From my point of view the Maryland Republican Party might as well be extinct; calling it endangered is giving the “leadership” too much credit. Since Al Wynn’s opponents are all running to the left of him, and the Maryland and Prince George’s GOP committees aren’t supporting any Republicans, maybe they ought to just endorse Wynn, as awful as he is, and then shut down. Maybe the Greens or Libertarians or someone else can offer us some kind of an alternative to the current Democratic one-party rule.






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