Should they stay or should they go
If you listened to this week‘s RedMaryland Radio you heard Brian and I discuss whether the Republican members of the House of Delegates GOP caucus should attend a special session. The debate is ongoing and there are some important points that should be kept in mind.
Today, the Washington Examiner has an oped promoting the idea of the GOP House Caucus boycotting a special session. They concluded that “no conscientious lawmaker” should have anything to do with the proposal that will be presented to a special session.
As we discussed last night, whatever your thoughts on gambling, table gaming or a casino in Prince George’s county, the back door shenanigans and corrupt politics which will lead to a special session will not produce any proposal which deserves to be embedded in our state’s constitution. No conscientious lawmaker should lend credence to this horrific style of policymaking by voting for any proposal in a special session.
The House GOP caucus, to their great credit, have in unison opposed a special session. In their statement House GOP Leader Tony O’Donnell stated
“We want to make it clear that our 43-member Caucus still adamantly opposes, in the strongest terms possible, any Special Session on gambling. There is no crisis or emergency demanding an extraordinary special session. The best way to deal with the public policy issue of expanded gambling is through the normal order of the regular legislative session in January.”
Given the closeness of the vote a unified GOP caucus would be critical in getting this issue to exactly the kind of “normal order” where it should be.
And there lies the rub. When there were close votes in the past, whether the 2007 slots vote or gay marriage, there have always been a few Republicans who can be bribed to go against their caucus. The Democratic machine never runs out of bags of 40 pieces of silver to pay to the too many Republican Judas Iscariots.
Sources close to the caucus tell me that if the GOP goes to Annapolis for a special session as many as twelve GOP delegates would vote for the as yet undisclosed slots proposal. If the caucus stays away only two or three would more boldly break ranks to show up and vote for the Dems’ plan.
The gambling interests are also doing what they can to spread disunity among Republicans. They have hired, among others, two well know GOP lobbyists. One is the well known purveyor of slash and burn Republican politics Lawrence Scott. (Another example of the irony of saying Scott and “Party Unity” in the same sentence.) The other is our erstwhile Red Maryland contributor Todd Lamb.
It is a sad commentary when the GOP caucus can stand uniformly behind such a clear statement of opposition to the gambling circus but cannot trust its members when they are actually in the crucible that is Annapolis.
If staying away increases the chances that Republican members will actually refuse to “participate in such a disgusting process” then by all means they should stay away but maybe in 2014 we can send a few more Republicans that cannot be lobbied, bribed or cajoled to enable the “aberrant and low-brow behavior” of Maryland Democrats.