A Time for Choosing
One of the most important decisions to be made prior to the start of the 2015 Maryland General Assembly Session is taking place tomorrow. The Senate Republican Caucus is meeting to determine the new Senate leadership for 2015. And this is of paramount importance to ensure solid conservative leadership in the State Senate. There are two contenders for the job right now. Senator J.B. Jennings of Baltimore County, and Senator Ed Reilly of Anne Arundel County. Both have the support of three members of the Caucus, with eight Senators still undecided about who should have this important job.
Needless to say, there are a variety of reasons why the Senators should not choose Ed Reilly.
As I mentioned in my piece this morning, Ed Reilly said something very stupid when it comes to Michael Peroutka. The exact quote that he gave to the Annapolis Capital was “I never perceived (Peroutka) as radical in any area… I think he would make a great councilman.” I think that opens up an entire world to the mainstream media and to Maryland Democrats to delegitimize State Senate leadership from the get-go. How will Senator Reilly explain that he doesn’t find secession radical? How will Senator Reilly explain that he doesn’t find that Peroutka’s insistence that the Maryland General Assembly is not a valid legislative body radical? If Senator Reilly agrees with Peroutka that the Maryland General Assembly isn’t a legislative body why then does he insist upon leading it? The questions will be never-ending as to why Ed Reilly thinks that Michael Peroutka’s beliefs aren’t radical. It will derail any ability for the Senate Caucus to work on behalf of Governor-elect Hogan.
But those aren’t the only reasons why Reilly should not take over Senate Leadership. Reilly would be little more than a continuation of David Brinkley’s failed leadership of the Senate Caucus. And as Greg Kline pointed out, Senator Reilly was instrumental in supporting the emergency legislation to help bail out the O’Malley/Brown Administration from their botched rollout of the Health Care exchange:
Now, another key vote shows that the diagnosis of “Stockholm Syndrome” among Senate Republicans was right on the nose. Emergency legislation to save the O’Malley/Brown administration from their disastrous roll-out of the Maryland Health Exchange was passed by the state Senate on a 38-8 vote. The Republicans who opposed the bill pointed out that the state exchange should be short-circuited completely rather than doubling down on a bureaucratic failure. Further, the vote bails out the administration, particularly Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, from the consequences of its lack of oversight and incompetence.
Republican leaders in the State Senate, including Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley (R-Frederick) and Senate Minority Whip Ed Reily (R-Anne Arundel), voted for the legislation. Senate President Mike Miller thanked these Republicans for their support of the measure, which will no doubt be cited by House Democrats as weapon to diminish the more spirited opposition expected in the House of Delegates. Senator Brinkley attempted to spin his acquiescence to the will of Mike Miller by saying that the bill was a “public statement that the state messed up.” If the state messed this issue up, why would state Republicans simply affirm the bail-out of the state’s failure?
With Republican numbers in the General Assembly and a Republican Governor in office, this is no time to choose a lapdog of the Democratic leadership to lead the fight for the Governor’s agenda in the Senate.
Beyond that, Reilly has not shown himself to be a team player when it comes to trying to grow membership in the State Senate. Campaign finance data shows that Ed Reilly, despite being unopposed for re-election and despite being the #2 guy in the Senate Caucus, gave no money to any Senate Challengers during the 2014 Election Cycle. Sure, he donated almost $2,000 to Alex Mooney’s Congressional Campaign out in West Virginia. He donated $1,000 to disgraced former Senator Richard Colburn during his campaign against now Senator-Elect Addie Eckardt. He donated $250 to the campaign of Delegate-Elect Meagan Simonaire, daughter of his Senate colleague Bryan Simonaire (one of the three Senators currently supporting Reilly for Minority Leader). Reilly also paid Public Opinion Strategies $6,500 to commission a push-poll that was designed to negatively impact Delegate Tony McConkey in the Republican Primary for Delegate.
Had Reilly, who as of his last campaign finance report still had over $5,000 cash on hand, had donated some of his resources instead to Corey Stottlemyer, Mike McDermott, Dr. Tim Robinson, or yes even Don Quinn, we might be only one Senator short of a veto-proof Senate instead of five. Had he transferred some of his funds to the Senate GOP Caucus account in an amount larger than the $25 personal donation he made, he could have made a difference.
Senator J.B. Jennings is a different kind of Senator than Reilly. Somebody who is a fresh face that will stand up to the Democratic machine in Annapolis. He is somebody who is a younger Senator, who understands that you won’t be able to accomplish anything on behalf of Republicans in Annapolis if you’re merely going along to get along with the Democratic leadership. And Senator Jennings did his part to help grow the Senate Caucus: he gave $8,000 to the Senate GOP Caucus in the closing weeks of the campaign, despite himself facing a re-election campaign. His campaign committee also supported other Senate Challengers during 2014 as well.
It’s a time for choosing for the Senate Caucus tomorrow. They can choose the old way that we have always done things, with a Senator who will go along to get along, a Senator who is thoroughly concerned only with himself and not helping to grow Republican numbers in the Senate. Or they can truly take the message that the voters gave their elected officials to Change Maryland by picking a Senate leader who understands the need to fight back against the Democrats and to stand up for Republican values. The better choice to lead to serve as Senate Minority Leader is J.B. Jennings.