White Flag Over Annapolis

One of the things that we have been talked about here at Red Maryland for some time is the need to contest every election in the state of Maryland (just look at Greg’s piece about the Attorney General’s race for proof positive of that). If you’ve been paying attention to the goings on in Frederick, you will know that there are competitive, contested and vibrant Republican Primaries for both Mayor and Alderman. We’ve got a real good chance this November of retaining the Mayor’s office as well as picking up a majority of seats on Frederick’s Board of Aldermen.

And then we get to Annapolis, where pretty much everything went wrong. And while a lot of the people involved in this are friends who I have known for years, we have to talk about this.

In Annapolis this year, they will be elected a Mayor and Aldermen in eight wards throughout the city. The Mayor and the Eight Aldermen make up the Board of Alderman, who serve as the legislative body of the city. While the Mayor does run the executive branch, all legislation is originated in and voted on by the Board of Aldermen, on which the Mayor also sits.

Somehow, we wound up with five Republicans running in Annapolis. Across the entire city. Inexplicably of those five, three of them are running for Mayor. Those candidates are:

  • Mike Pantelides, who is on the Annapolis Republican Central Committee, was the Campaign Manager of Dave Cordle’s 2009 campaign, and has been actively planning to run for Mayor for a few years.
  • Bob O’Shea, who filed at the end of June out of the blue, somebody who I had never heard, never met, and never interacted with. The only interaction I have had was with his campaign when they pulled out of the scheduled Red Maryland Mayoral Debate.
  • And we have Frank Bradley, who is also on the Annapolis Republican Central Committee, who decided to run last night.

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This means that six of the eight wards in Annapolis will see Democrats face no Republican opposition in the General Election, though one ward will have an Independent on the ballot.

What’s even more inexplicable is the fact that of the three candidates who are running for Mayor, two of them live in Districts that have no candidate opposition. Bob O’Shea lives in Ward 1, Mike Pantelides in Ward 3, and Frank Bradley lives in Ward 8.

Also on the ballot this year are members of the Annapolis Republican Central Committee, for their re-election to office. Of the eight members of the Central Committee, only one of them filed for re-election to the Committee, Chairman Bill Day. He will now be tasked with appointing the other eight members of the Central Committee.

I have absolutely no idea what happened in Annapolis and why four years of trying to recruit candidates was not fruitful. A few weeks ago the Annapolis Central Committee held a joint event with the Anne Arundel Republican Central Committee at State Party Headquarters to try to drum up interest and support while also trying to recruit candidates. But this event came nine days before the deadline, not exactly a prime time to be trying to recruit somebody to put their name on the ballot in an uphill battle.

While the 2009 election was not successful due to the losses by Republican candidates, at least in that election only Wards 1 and 4 did not have a Republican Candidate standing for election. In Ward 2 Fred Paone was elected without opposition, and in every other ward elections were at least semi-competitive.

I am sympathetic to the fact that running in Annapolis (or any semi-large city) in Maryland is a chore. Registration numbers are problematic, turnout is anemic, and it’s a giant pain in the backside to run for office with the possibility of such little return on investment. That being said, at some point we have to expect more from our Republican leaders. Bluntly, two of the three guys running for Mayor should have run for Alderman in their respective wards in order to ensure that voters had a choice between a Republican and a Democratic. Furthermore, it is not an unreasonable expectation that in the wards that could not recruit a candidate that the Annapolis Republican Central Committee member in that district should have bitten the bullet and filed for the office themselves. At some point, we have to expect that Republican leaders at all level lead by example and ensure that we have candidates up and down the ballot (I remember Terry Gilleland, when he was Chair of the Anne Arundel Central Committee, filing around the filing deadline for State Senate in 2002 for this very reason).

If we are going to advance the Republican Party, advance conservatism in this state, we have to fight at every level and ensure that we have candidates prepared to take on the challenge. We succeeded in Frederick. We failed in Annapolis.

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