Eight is Enough
The Maryland Republican Party has an opportunity to again lead on electoral reform.
Several years ago, during my time on the Maryland Republican Party Executive Committee, reforms were instituted to the voter registration process for State GOP Conventions. These changes required that Central Committee members or those holding voting proxies for the convention to present photo identification when being credentialed for the convention. The idea, of course, was that if the Republican Party was going to call for requiring voters to present identification to vote in all elections, then it should be required for all votes being taken within the party as well. It was important that the State Party lead by example.
The same should be true of term limits.
Currently, there are six statewide party officers that are elected by the State Central Committee to two-year terms at the Fall State Party Convention in even-numbered years; Chairman, 1st Vice-Chairman, 2nd Vice-Chairman, 3rd Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer. Two other positions, National Committeeman and National Committeewoman, are elected to serve four-year terms at the Spring State Party Convention in Presidential Election Years. It would be an easy fix to amend the State Republican Party bylaws to limit individuals from serving in the same office for more than eight consecutive years. That’s not to say that individuals would be limited only to eight years of service in any of these offices, just eight consecutive years in the same office. Nor would anybody be prohibited from returning to these offices after sitting out a term.
What would be the practical impact of such a change? Immediately, not much. Over the course of the last fifteen years, only Louis Pope was elected to serve more than eight consecutive years. The only sitting Maryland Republican Party Officer who would be affected by the adoption of term limits prior to their next election would be Nicolee Ambrose, who is serving her second four-year term as National Committeewoman.
Republicans and conservative have over the years made articulate arguments in support of term limits. Many legislators and legislative candidates here in Maryland have made either personal pledges to observe term limits or incorporated term limits into their platforms. Incorporating term limits into State Republican leadership posts would send a powerful message to voters and would again give the party the opportunity to show that it has no problem practicing what it preaches.