Nicolee Ambrose, Audrey Scott Seek MDGOP National Committeewoman Spot
Former Young Republican National Federation Chair, Nicolee Ambrose, and former MDGOP Chair, Audrey Scott, are seeking to replace Joyce Tehres as MDGOP National Committeewoman. Tehres resigned last week.
I spoke with Ambrose and Scott over the phone last night about why they want the job, and the issues facing the state party.
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Both women said they are seeking the position for the same reason—to help make Maryland a true two party state.
Ambrose, also on faculty at the Leadership Institute, said she has a clear vision of what she wants to do with the position. “I want to take National Committeewoman beyond the traditional ceremonial role,” she said. Ambrose laid out three goals for the job: build a farm team for the state party, initiate more innovative fund raising specifically by bringing in new donors, and bring the state’s grass roots activists to bear.
Scott, a former Mayor of Bowie and member of the Prince George’s County Council sees the role as the extension of what she’s been doing for the last 40 years. “I have the experience and the depth we desperately need,” she said. Scott says that with her experience as MDGOP chair, there will be “no learning curve.” She touts the experience and contacts she’s made over her many years of campaigning.
Both Ambrose and Scott have a track record of success in local and state politics, and party building. Ambrose built the Baltimore Area Young Republicans out of nothing, and Scott was one of the few, if the only, elected Republicans from Prince George’s County.
I asked them about repairing what appears to be a schism between the grass roots TEA Party activist base of the party and the “establishment”—for lack of a better term—wing of the party. The Tea Party activists haven’t waited for the state party to get its act together. They’ve taken the bull by the horns and weather it is MDCAN or the successful petition drive to put in-state tuition for illegal immigrants on the ballot, the activists have filled the gap left by the state party.
Fair or not, Scott is going to be tagged with the “establishment” label. She took a lot of flak for her “party over everything” response when asked “principle over party or party over principle.” To be fair though she was state party chair and as she said, it was her job to make the party first.
Scott doesn’t see a division. “I don’t make a distinction between activist and establishment,” Scott said. “I’m absolutely an activist, I’ve done the grunt work, I’ve campaigned, and I’ve raised money.” Her bottom line is “we all have one common goal and that is to elect Republicans.”
Given her experience, Ambrose could be tagged with the same label as well. She see’s a lot of common ground between the Tea Party activists. “If you’re willing to role up your sleeves and do the hard work,” Ambrose said. “Then there is a seat at the table.” Ambrose shares the Tea Party’s commitment to fiscal conservatism. “I’ll fight for fiscal conservatism until the day I die,” she says.
As National Committee Woman Ambrose and Scott will have the opportunity to make Maryland more relevant in national politics, especially in regard to presidential primaries. I asked them what they would do.
Ambrose favors allowing Independents in Maryland’s primaries. In order to make Maryland a true two party state, “We need to invite more people in” she said. Ambrose touts her experience as chairwoman of the YRNF. “I was the first Marylander elected chair of YRNF, and that is a rarity for someone from such a small blue state.” As YRNF chair she made Maryland a targeted state.
She also believes that because the YRNF has the same organizational structure as the RNC, it gives her a leg up to make the RNC “realize the redness of our state and bring resources to Maryland”.
“I’ve never been a fan of that particular practice,” Scott said of allowing Democrats and Independents in Iowa and New Hampshire to have first crack at choosing the Republican presidential nominee. Scott, never one to shy away from expressing her opinion, wants to leverage her experience and make the RNC realize Maryland should not be overlooked. “I know the players and I’ve earned their respect, I want to capitalize on that for the benefit of the state.”
The state party is in dire financial straits ($120,000 in debt), and the current chairman is busy raising $100,000 for a congressional campaign he may not even undertake. Ambrose and Scott both see a role for the National Committee Woman to play in raising money for the state party, and both have held fundraisers this year for the party. “I’ve always been a fundraiser,” Scott said. Ambrose see’s herself keeping on the same track she is on with the Finance Committee. She touts a Christmas fundraiser that brought in double the goal she set. She also says Microsoft is going to volunteer its Washington DC, headquarters for a future fundraising event.
According to party bylaws the MDGOP Executive Committee, must appoint an interim National Committeewoman within 60 day of the vacancy occurring. The State Central Committee must elect a new the next National Committeewoman to fill the remainder of the term at the next convention.
Tehres is not resigning, but choosing not to run again. Error regretted.