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Conservatives &Politics Richard Falknor on 08 May 2009 07:21 am

The Conservative State of Play in Maryland and Virginia

Here is our quick take on the state of conservative play in Maryland and Virginia. 

The Old Line State – gubernatorial contenders and Party chiefs

We wrote last month about a letter reportedly circulated among some Republican state lawmakers calling for the resignation of Republican Party chairman Jim Pelura from his post — a letter which in our view represents the voice of the state Republican “Establishment.” But the anti-Pelura effort could be losing momentum.  The Republican Spring Convention, last weekend in Hagerstown, came and went without incident.  In our judgment, long-time Republican stalwart Pelura has been a soft-spoken, hard-working conservative. One wonders if there are more goals behind the anti-Pelura effort than its proponents reveal.  Maryland conservatives should ask their Republican state legislators now if they have signed the questionable anti-Pelura letter.

Former Republican governor Bob Ehrlich, who managed during his tenure to vex important elements of the conservative base, continues his efforts to build his own war chest. “You’ll be able to contribute online soon!” crows his website.

And new political face and business executive Charles Lollar is considering a run for governor himself in 2010. The former Marine showcased his “New-Day-in-Maryland Vision” at the Republican state convention in Hagerstown last weekend.

Although the majority of House of Delegates Republicans have managed to come together to vote against this year’s operating budget, only thirteen (out of the 36) could bring themselves to vote against the pork-laden capital budget

The one issue on which nearly all House of Delegates and State Senate Republicans did come together was to insist on lawful presence for anyone getting a Maryland driver’s permit.  This, in our judgment, came about because of the grass-roots pushback of Help Save Maryland and Maryland Citizens First  (neither associated with the Republican Party) against making Maryland a “sanctuary state” — and because of the patient and highly focussed efforts of delegate Ron George.

Unfortunately, there are no statewide Maryland grass-roots organizations, for example, monitoring the totality of Maryland “green” laws resulting from global-warming alarmism — laws with significant fiscal and liberty costs.

The Old Dominion – Bill Stanley Jumps into Party Race

Virginia conservatives are still smarting from the heavy-handed removal of former Virginia Republican Party chairman Jeff Frederick.  Whatever Mr. Frederick’s strengths and weaknesses, many conservatives viewed the proceeding against Mr. Frederick as a proxy attack on them by the Virginia Republican Establishment. Not only presumptive gubernatorial candidate Bob O’Donnell but also Virginia Republican U. S. Representatives joined the unseemly clamor for Mr. Frederick’s head. 

As Brendan Miniter pointed out in the Wall Street Journal’s “Political Diary,” Mr. O’Donnell has been a tax hiker. His policy guru  Ed Gillespie is also a big-government and pro-amnesty voice with close Bush ties. Representative (and Republican Whip) Eric Cantor’s big-governmentalism (two votes for TARP) and recent tax-foolishness is a matter of record, and he now is reportedly the driving force behind the National Council for a New America which he calls a “listening tour.”  Others could see it a “pandering tour.”

And Virginia conservatives should help deconstruct the urban myth of the GOP establishment about “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” Republicans.  As Jonah Goldberg explains —

” . . . [W]e’re constantly hearing from strategists who insist that the answer is to loosen up, baby — become more socially liberal while staying fiscally conservative. The key problem is that fiscal conservatism, whatever its merits, isn’t economic conservatism in the free-market tradition of Hayek, Friedman, Reagan, et al. As a generalization, when people say they are fiscal conservatives but social liberals, what they are really saying is that they are, simply, moderate liberals. Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, and the rest aren’t socially conservative, and they aren’t economically conservative either.” — National Review, April 6, 2009 (subscription only).

The Virginia Republican state convention is slated for May 29 and May 30

What response to the Virginia Republican Establishment will conservatives make?  Of course, many will likely be supporting lawyer and Franklin County Republican chief Bill Stanley who yesterday jumped into the race for state chairman.  Will conservatives also use the state convention to market conservative governing principles to Virginia — no-new-taxes and fostering entrepreneurship in commerce and consumer choice in health care; smaller state and local government with tax-and-expenditure limits; the culture of life including transmission to our children of our civilization’s values; and stout defense at home as well as abroad?  

Conservatives Have to Lead Themselves Out of the Wilderness

Republicans have, we suspect, too long thought they could do their bit in opposing big government and high taxes and then quietly spend most of their time in their business and personal callings.  There may have been a time when this was possible, but it is now long past.  What we now face is an ongoing revolution from the left that will touch every part of our lives — and there is no place to hide.  

The conservative grass-roots don’t need to ask permission of the state or national Republican Establishment to do the right thing — if those folks had a clear idea of what the right thing was, they wouldn’t have to go on a ‘listening tour’ to find out.

Ask yourself — do you work with other conservatives to hold errant elected Republicans accountable when they appear at local Party meetings?  Are you tracking your Republican politicians’ voting records?  Look at these activities as essential training for the confrontational skills you’ll need to face down Hard Left activists who become more emboldened during Mr. Obama’s term. 

On the positive side — we do have some fine and courageous conservatives in both houses of the Congress.  They may or may not be the members representing your particular district, nor the senators from your state, but the presence of these conservatives is heartening and without them our country would be in far worse straits.  The House Republican Study Committee is the gold standard both for conservative alternatives and for detailed analysis. And the Tea Parties should be an inspiration!

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