Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Editorial: Republican Central Committee can't do its one job

Over the past three years, the Republican Central Committee of Carroll County has had the opportunity to fill four vacancies — two in the state legislature and two internally. While, ultimately, we think the people chosen to fill those seats are doing or will do a fine job in their roles, it could not be more clear that the central committee’s processes are completely broken.

The Republican Central Committee consists of nine members who are chosen by voters during the primary of the midterm elections. Members serve four-year terms and help register voters, offer assistance to those seeking office and, during larger elections like for the governor or president, maintain a campaign headquarters. The state constitution also grants the power to the central committees to recommend names to the governor for replacements to fill vacancies.


When it comes to political influence, it’s debatable how much a local central committee actually has unless there is a vacancy.

Carroll’s Republican Central Committee had an opportunity to flex its political muscle when Republican Gov. Larry Hogan was elected in 2014 and chose then-Sen. Joseph Getty to be a member of his Cabinet. Instead, it flopped, failing to give the public an opportunity to weigh in as promised and sending only one choice: Robin Bartlett Frazier, whose campaign to be re-elected as a county commissioner failed in the primary and again as a write-in during the general election.


The public immediately disapproved, as did the governor, apparently, who requested the committee provide additional names. After initially balking, a portion of the group relented, and ultimately then-Del. Justin Ready was tabbed for the state Senate seat, but not before a faction of the central committee brought a series of court challenges preceding and following Ready’s appointment. The legal challenges led to the clock running out on the committee’s opportunity to nominate candidates for Ready’s replacement in the House. Instead, the committee sent a list of 27 names that the governor’s office vetted before choosing April Rose.

Since then, the split among members of the central committee has been clear. Infighting and factions among political parties is really nothing new — some may even argue that the divide locally somewhat mirrors that of the Republican Party in Washington right now. Two vacancies in 2017 on the committee, however, have highlighted just how fractured the current committee is.

We take issue that the committee isn’t following its own bylaws to fill open seats by conducting a vote. Instead, the two factions argued over whether the committee chair has the right to vote in such decisions in September, then the chairman canceled the October meeting before the issue could be discussed again and potentially decided, then made the decision himself, as the bylaws allow after 80 days if the committee cannot choose. The decision may have ultimately been the same, but that’s the wrong way to go about getting there.

For the previous appointment, Chairman Larry Helminiak voted creating a 4-4 tie among members, then essentially voted a second time to break the tie after the 80-day window ran out. The bylaws are unclear whether the chair can do that, stating “the election shall be by secret ballot at which the chair shall vote in accordance with procedures agreed upon by the committee.” What is clear, though, is that some sort of vote should have taken place this time around. Instead, Helminiak essentially ran out the clock until he could handpick the next member.

This dysfunction cannot continue. Filling an internal vacancy on the committee is one thing, it’s quite another should the central committee have to fill a hole in the state Senate, House of Delegates or Board of County Commissioners. Realistically, the central committee has one job, and it’s now demonstrated over and over that it cannot do it competently.

Republican voters should remember this come June, during the next primary election. Central committee is often a throwaway at the bottom of the ballot. It should warrant a more discerning vote in 2018.