Farewell Remarks as Maryland Young Republicans Chairman

It’s funny how one event starts you down a road in politics, and often times you’ll never know where you end up.
In the summer of 2008, I had no interest in being involved in the Young Republicans. Sure, I had been involved previously, but life, campaigns, and other opportunities got in the way of that. But the state YR’s were organizing a new chapter here in Anne Arundel County. And the individuals who had been selected to lead that chapter were people that none of us county folks had ever heard of. So, in August of 2008, myself, Ashley Reed, Jason Rheinstein and Jerry Walker had a meeting with those state folks, which set the time for another meeting to formally organize the club. I tried extremely hard to not get elected to any office within that club. But that fateful day I was elected President of the Anne Arundel Young Republicans.

It was that day that led us down the road to today.

Very quickly, we were able to turn the Anne Arundel YR’s into one of the best organized, most well-run YR organizations in the state. It was from that platform that I quickly became involved in this state organization. Despite my running for State Chairman against him in 2009, my predecessor Moshe Starkman appointed me to two important posts: Vice-President of Club Development and as National Committeeman.

During my time as Vice-President of Club Development, the YRs in this state reached unprecedented achievements. From a time beginning during my term as VP through my first term as State Chairman, 23 of Maryland’s 24 counties were serviced by YR clubs. Few state organizations reach that kind of saturation, and it had never before been done here in the state of Maryland. I was able to criss-cross the state, from Hagerstown to Salisbury, from Bel Air to California, working to grow YR clubs at the local level. And we were very successful at that endeavor.

My term as National Committeeman started my five years of service to the Young Republican National Committee. As National Committeeman, I was able to get involved quickly with our national organization and start trying, as best as I could, to reform and fix the organization. Several previous national chairs had left the organization in bad shape, and I was happy to play a part in cleaning up their mess over the course of the next several years. It also gave me an opportunity to repair Maryland’s reputation at the YR National level, a reputation that had been badly damaged due to a working relationship that had gone sour between the national organization and my predecessor. I was able to rebuild trust among YRs across the nation, and I was selected to serve in two leadership roles. As Assistant Secretary, I began the work of trying to reform the YR bureaucracy from the inside. And as Northeast Regional Vice-Chairman, I worked with YRs from around the region to try and create a functioning, cohesive regional unit. In fact, I was the first Regional Vice-Chairman to successful visit at the states and territories in their region during the course of their term.

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Twice the YRs of this state unanimously elected me to serve as Chairman. I’m the only Chairman in recent memory to have served two terms. We have a lot to be proud of that we accomplished during my terms:

  • We have reformed the way our organization does business. We no longer need to rely on County chairs and county organizations to conduct the business of organizing YRs. Thanks to our 2014 bylaw reforms, we able to do this directly from the State level.
  • We were fiscally responsible. No administration has spent less, and has spent less on frivolous things, than this one.
  • For the first time, we have a mailing list that we can send to the thousands of YRs and Republican activists who are on our list. This allows us an ability to disseminate information that we never had previously.
  • During our term we were able to setup both the MDYR Facebook page and the MDYR Twitter account. This gave us the latest in social media sharing capability.
  • Working closely with our partners in the College Republicans, we were able to secure a vote on the Maryland Republican Party Executive Committee for our State Chairman. Despite many efforts in the past to get this done, we were finally able to secure that vote during my term.
  • In 2012, the Maryland Young Republicans were one of the few groups that didn’t give up on Maryland. While other clubs and candidates were desperate to work in Ohio, or Pennsylvania, or Virginia, and while then State Party Chairman Alex Mooney was distracted looking for his next gig, the Maryland Young Republicans stayed and fought here.The MDYRs were the only organization in Maryland that brought people in to help, as our friends in the DCYRs came and knocked doors and made phone calls for Dan Bongino and for our 2012 ballot questions. And I was the only Executive Committee member who would public chastise to then Alex Mooney for his lack of leadership in supporting our candidates and our values.
  • And how could I forgot that during my administration, we elected a Republican governor? I’m one of only two MDYR Chairs to ever get to say that.

That is not to say that everything is all roses going forward. The great disappointment of my tenure is the fact that so many of our local clubs faded away. Often times the clubs faded due to changes in leadership at the top when one top official moves on in their life. For example, the Chair of our Southern Maryland club moved to Florida, our Prince George’s chair aged out, our Western Maryland chair became incommunicado, and our Anne Arundel and Mid-Shore chairs went to work for campaigns. In their stead, they did not have any strong or interested leaders ready to take their place, and nobody stepped up to fill the mantle of leadership despite the efforts of myself and others to find appropriate leaders. It showed how the old model, the old way of doing business just was not going to work in Maryland in the 21st century. With our new model, of a unitary state organization, we have set the course for tremendous success for this organization in the future with committed leadership.

One of the things that those who have not been involved in the organization have critiqued has been our involvement in the 2014 elections. At the last convention, as those of you who were there know, I labored with the decision about how best to approach recruiting and club organization with so many of our Young Republican assets already working in support of Larry Hogan, working on state and local campaigns, and often times being on the ballot themselves. It was not an easy decision to not compete with the local campaigns in recruiting members and volunteers for YR purposes in order to ensure that the party and our Republican candidates had the resources they needed to compete. However, it was the right decision to make at the time and nobody can argue about the tremendous success that we had at the ballot box.

So where do the YRs go from here? Well, time will time. There are tremendous opportunities for this organization going forward, with a Republican Governor, the potential 2017 YR Convention here in Annapolis, and a favorable electoral climate. However, I am concerned about the lack of experience within our organization. Despite all of the outreach attempts over the last several years, many of you are attending your first Maryland YR Event today. That is unfortunate, because we would be better positioned today had you chosen to get involved in the past. However, I encourage you all to jump head first into this organization. Our party cannot afford to have those who are attracted to leadership positions solely based on the desire to have a title. Our organization, our party, our state needs people who want to do something, not be something. You will need to earn the trust and respect of other Republicans both here in Maryland and around the country to prove the doubters wrong about your intentions.

So now, I will take my leave of the Maryland Young Republicans. While I will remain a voting member of the  Maryland YR Executive Board for the next two years as Immediate Past Chairman, I intend to make this my last Maryland YR Event, and the YRNF Convention in Chicago at the end of next month my last national event. The Maryland YRs and the YRNF have given me many opportunities both politically and personally, and I am fortunate to count so many YRs around the state and around the country as friends. Rest assured that while I am stepping away from the YRs, that I will not be stepping away from politics. I’ve been down with the struggle of conservatism in this state for over 15 years. I’ve still got more work to do. And I will still be Editor-in-Chief of Red Maryland where we will continue our prolific and wildly successful track record as Maryland’s most respected conservative voice.

May God bless you all, and may God bless our great state. Thank you, best of luck to all of you, especially our new MDYR leadership, and let’s continue to move the cause of conservatism onward and upward.
Conservatively yours,

Brian Griffiths
Maryland Young Republicans Chairman

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