I wrote last week about the choice that Maryland voters will have this year between the higher taxes and feckless spending of our state's Democratic monopoly and the Republican alternative. Central to the MDGOP's campaign theme this year will be strident opposition to the monopoly running Annapolis.
As the General Assembly session begins, voters looking for an alternative to the one-party rule in our state are watching the actions of outnumbered Republican caucuses in each chamber. Among the first votes in each year's session is the election of the officers for each body, the Speaker of the House of Delegates and the President of the Senate.
While no one expected any changes or much drama on these votes, they are telling about the level of united opposition to the status quo by state Republicans. In the House of Delegates, the Republicans nominated their minority leader, Del. Nic Kipke of Anne Arundel County for the speakership. While Kipke lost in a voice vote, several House Republicans promoted a change of leadership in the chamber. Delegate Justin Ready (R-Carroll) called the Kipke nomination a "revolt on the House floor," and Delegate Leroy Myers (R-Allegany) told the Maryland Reporter, "While we deeply respect Speaker Busch, we hold a very different view on the policies that are best for the citizens of the state of Maryland."
But something very different happened in the Maryland state Senate. While Republicans in the House of Delegates were revolting and demonstrating their resistance to the policies of the current leadership in Annapolis, Sen. Mike Miller (D-Prince George's) was reelected as President of the Senate 43-1, with only Senator Bryan Simonaire (R-Anne Arundel) voting against. Senator Simonaire explained his vote saying that he was standing on principle and "could not support the vision (Miller) has for Maryland."
Which begs the question, do all the other Senate Republicans support Mike Miller's vision for our state?
While these votes are largely symbolic, in politics symbols are important. A crippling problem that conservatives and Republicans have had in recent election cycles is gaining the trust of support of conservative minded voters who simply do not believe that Republican elected officials will stand on principle when they arrive in Washington or Annapolis. If the MDGOP wants to take full advantage of the voters' mistrust of the O'Malley/Miller/Busch axis that runs our state government, then they must as a first step show that they oppose this leadership.
Casting a first vote for Mike Miller sends just the opposite message. It states that no "revolution" is needed and that any opposition Republican senators will provide will be perfunctory and hospitable. But symbolic leadership votes are not the end of the story. If you have been following Red Maryland, you have heard our friends at Maryland Legislative Watch point out some haunting statistics. Namely, that a shocking number of laws are passed every year without any opposition at all and that most General Assembly Republicans vote with the majority party over 75 percent of the time.
It speaks to what my Red Maryland colleague Brian Griffiths called the "Vichy Wing" of our state party and shows serious signs of Stockholm Syndrome by elected Republicans inculcated in the "way things work in Annapolis." Republicans leaders need to understand that the "go along to get along" approach is a fast track to perpetual minority status and that they need to be more strident and consistent in their opposition during the session.
A lot more "revolution" would be a very good thing in Annapolis and if the current crop of elected Republicans cannot comprehend that message from the voters, well, that is why we have a primary election.
--Greg Kline is a co-founder and contributing editor for Red Maryland, which has strived to be the premier blog and radio network of conservative and Republican politics and ideas in the free state since 2007. A Maryland attorney, Greg was part of the legal team that defeated the General Assembly's effort to fire the Public Service Commission in 2006. He is a former Republican candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates and for chairman of the Maryland Republican Party. His Red Maryland posts appear here regularly.