I wrote a couple of weeks ago questioning whether the Republicans in the Maryland State Senate would provide spirited opposition to Senate President Mike Miller's agenda. The first test, the vote for Senate president, showed little organized opposition to the status quo in the state Senate.
Now, another key vote shows that the diagnosis of "Stockholm Syndrome" among Senate Republicans was right on the nose. Emergency legislation to save the O'Malley/Brown administration from their disastrous roll-out of the Maryland Health Exchange was passed by the state Senate on a 38-8 vote. The Republicans who opposed the bill pointed out that the state exchange should be short-circuited completely rather than doubling down on a bureaucratic failure. Further, the vote bails out the administration, particularly Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, from the consequences of its lack of oversight and incompetence.
Republican leaders in the State Senate, including Senate Minority Leader David Brinkley (R-Frederick) and Senate Minority Whip Ed Reily (R-Anne Arundel), voted for the legislation. Senate President Mike Miller thanked these Republicans for their support of the measure, which will no doubt be cited by House Democrats as weapon to diminish the more spirited opposition expected in the House of Delegates. Senator Brinkley attempted to spin his acquiescence to the will of Mike Miller by saying that the bill was a "public statement that the state messed up." If the state messed this issue up, why would state Republicans simply affirm the bail-out of the state's failure?
On an issue critical to Republican electoral hopes, the failure of health care legislation, Senator Brinkley has squandered an opportunity to put forward a better policy alternative. Rather than providing leadership, Senator Brinkley decided to provide bipartisan cover to Democratic machine's attempt to stem the bleeding caused by their failed policies. Such perfunctory opposition, as I wrote earlier, is precisely why state Republicans are stuck in a perpetual minority in the General Assembly. After all, if Senate Republicans vote the way Mike Miller tells them, what good would having more Republicans in the chamber accomplish?
Let us hope House Republicans can provide more unified and spirited opposition to this legislation. While the democratic majority has the votes to ram this through, it should not have Republican fingerprints on it.
--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.