Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid: How the Maryland Democratic Party is Still a Dumpster Fire

We’ve noted for a long long time that the Maryland Democratic Party is a dumpster fire. One reason that it’s so much of a dumpster fire, as we have also noted previously, is that there is nobody actually in charge of the party. There is nobody who can bring unity to party members, and nobody who can enforce order on the party.

Despite that, Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Maya Rockeymoore Cummings decided to interject herself into the race for Speaker of the House today.

It’s been widely reported and discussed, including here at Red Maryland, that the Maryland House Republican Caucus may be able to have a unique role in choosing the next speaker among the three Democrats seeking the position.

Rockeymoore Cummings is having absolutely none of that.

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The full version of her remarks are below.

The Rockeymoore Cummings statement is full of bombast and bravado and consists mainly of hints, allegations, and things left unsaid. The bottom line up front of her comments are:

  1. Democrats should unite behind a candidate for Speaker;
  2. Don’t even think about reaching out across the aisle to Republicans;
  3. The full brunt of the Democratic Party will be brought down upon anybody who doesn’t toe the line.

As professor and political analyst Todd Eberly said on Twitter, “This is one hell of a threat… “toe the line or we will punish you.”

What’s clear about all of this is the fact that Democrats are no closer to having settled on a candidate than they have before. What passes as the establishment candidate, Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh, clearly does not have the votes to wrapped up to have the support of the Democratic Caucus, much less to get the 71 votes she needs from the entire chamber to be elected speaker. It’s also very clear to Democratic leaders that one of the other two candidates, Adrienne Jones or Dereck Davis, will be able to strike a deal with the Republican Caucus and be able to hold enough Democratic votes together to make this happen.

It’s fascinating that Maya Rockeymoore Cummings is perfectly fine with her offensive behavior toward Larry Hogan and his voters, is fine with Democratic Party officials calling gun owners terrorists and threatening to doxx them, is fine with candidates who promote hate, intolerance, and fake news, is fine with racists like Mary Ann Lisanti, is fine with restrictions on free speech, and is fine with restrictions on due process. But if you want to reach across the aisle and work with Republicans in a bipartisan manner, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings will threaten to end you.

You would think that threatening to use the weight of the Democratic Party against a member of the Democratic Party is against their rules. And it is. But it didn’t stop from the Democratic establishment using the weight of the party to crush Anthony Muse on behalf of Ben Cardin in the 2012 U.S. Senate primary in violation of their bylaws.

The Rockeymoore Cummings threat is particularly hypocritical when you consider that Democratic candidates like Kathy Klausmeier were re-elected in 2018 solely on the fact that they pretended to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Governor Larry Hogan. Didn’t hear a peep from Cummings about that one.

Ultimately, the Rockeymoore Cummings threat is absolutely toothless. As we’ve said before, there is no Democratic Party establishment anymore. The election of Rockeymoore Cummings and her slate back in December moved the Democratic Party radically to the left. Had there been a Democratic establishment, she and her band of leftists would never have been elected. If there were an effective Democratic establishment, she wouldn’t need to make statements like this. If the establishment and the party apparatus really had any stroke anymore Ben Jealous would never have been the Democratic nominee for governor last year. Back in the day when the Democratic Party was a cohesive machine, Democratic Party leaders didn’t go to the press with these kinds of statements, didn’t issue public proclamations that Democrats needed to get in line. Democrats got in line, and Democrats that didn’t get in line knew there were consequences.

This statement from Maya Rockeymoore Cummings? She’s bluffing. And the worst part about bluffing is politics is when everybody knows that you’re bluffing and is fully prepared to call your bluff. The Cummings statement is toothless because everybody knows there will be no consequences for crossing her. She’s a feckless, powerless leader in all of this.

And if Rockeymoore Cummings does try to impose consequences on Democrats, we’re going to get the hilarity of Cummings using the Democratic apparatus to try to take out Democrats who supported either the first African-American Speaker, first female Speaker, or the first homosexual Speaker. No matter what Cummings does there she finds herself collateral damage in the wreckage of an intersectionality car crash.

At the end of the day, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings doesn’t have the power to order Democrats to tie their shoes, much less order them how to conduct a speaker election. Regardless of her feelings on the subject, the election for Speaker is not an intramural game, as the Speaker represents the interests of the entire house. The Republicans have as much say and as equal of a vote on the election of Speaker as do the Democrats. And each member of the Hosue of both parties should think clearly about who will best represent the will of the House and who will best work with the Governor and the Senate to do the business of the people of this state.

The Maya Rockeymoore Cummings attitude that the House of Delegates is an apparatus of the Democratic Party is part of the larger systemic problem that faces Democrats and the train wreck that constitutes their party leadership.

UPDATE, 4/24, 9:59 PM

Bryan Sears reports that the Legislative Black Caucus is having none of her threats

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

TO: Democratic Members of the Maryland House of Delegates
FROM: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Maryland Democratic Party Chair
DATE: April 24, 2019
RE: Open Letter Regarding the Speaker of the House of Delegates Leadership Race and Similar Matters

As the Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, it is my role to make sure that the Party’s infrastructure and operations are solid, so the public is informed, inspired, and activated to vote for Democrats and so Democratic candidates can win elections and serve the people effectively. I am also responsible for ensuring that Democratic elected officials can operate in a political environment that optimizes their ability to represent Democratic voters, values, and policies.

Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates have reportedly offered to cast their 42 votes in support of a Democratic candidate for Speaker who is unlikely to win the majority vote of the Democratic Caucus. While Republicans are free to cast their votes as they so choose, it would be unacceptable for a Democratic candidate to assume the Speaker’s position in this manner.

The Speaker of the House of Delegates carries a lot of power. S/he appoints committee chairs who determine how legislation is developed and whether it is advanced, sets the policy and political agenda for the full body, and schedules the matters to be taken up on the House floor. A Democratic Speaker who rises to the position because of Republican support will be beholden to Republicans, their agenda and their values. This outcome would not only hurt the Democratic Party, it would diminish the power of Democratic legislators and their ability to represent the values and the will of Democratic voters across a range of important issues.

For this reason, I call on each candidate for Speaker of the House of Delegates to accept the vote of the Democratic Caucus, vote for the Democratic nominee for Speaker, and refuse to accept a nomination from the floor if it means winning the position because of Republican votes.

Unfortunately, the Speaker’s race is not the end of this matter. For all the reasons stated above, the power and positioning of the Democratic Party is also threatened by Democratic elected officials who explicitly or tacitly throw their support to Republicans in general elections. The Party saw the result of this kind of behavior when Republican Governor Larry Hogan won reelection in the 2018 election cycle with the support of approximately 25 percent of Democratic voters; many of whom took cues from certain Democratic officials who refused to publicly support the Democratic gubernatorial nominee and/or publicly indicated their preference for the Republican governor.

Because the scenarios outlined above (and several more not yet articulated) conflict with our core principles and diminish our ability to achieve our goals, the Maryland Democratic Party is prepared to penalize (e.g. deny access to party tools and resources, charge a higher premium for services, etc.) any elected official who is caught using Party resources to promote Republican candidates and/or who work to block the ascension of Democratic nominees duly elected through official Democratic processes and procedures.

If officials deemed in violation of Party principles receive access to the tools and resources of the Maryland Democratic Party indirectly through leadership organizations, these organizations will be held to the same standards and penalties. More detailed guidelines explaining how and under what circumstances party penalties will be deployed are forthcoming.

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