Maybe you’ve heard of all the BS flying around out of Frederick and Carroll Counties about the recent respective GOP Central Committee votes to replace a Delegate, in Frederick’s case, and a State Senator in Carroll’s case. You mean you haven’t heard of all the wrangling and political roughhousing that’s taken place to replace Kelly Schulz in the House of Delegates so she could assume the position of DLLR Secretary – or to replace State Senator, Joe Getty, who has now joined the Hogan Administration?
That’s a shame.
Further, you’re not going to hear all of the various ins-outs of those two battles – at least not from me and not here. Those ins-outs and with daggers pointed every which way are what kept me from writing anything about these two messes in the first place. Not that I’m averse to writing about messes, oh no, that’s not the case at all. It’s just that, outside of Wendi Peters NOT getting the slot for the House of Delegates in Frederick County’s case, I didn’t really care.
And, I’m not really touching the issue much now, either. But, when I get multi-forwarded copies of an email sent out by the MDGOP State Chair, Diana Waterman, I’m inclined to take a look. Which I have. Ms. Waterman has come out against a bill – sponsored by a GOP Delegate in the House (Christian Miele) and co-sponsored by Senator Michael Hough and a host of other GOP Senators in the Senate – which would remove the power to replace exiting GOP legislators from the Central Committees and open the replacement process up to the voters in a special election.
Below are copies of Ms. Waterman’s (verbatim) email to Central Committee Members, which includes a copy of her written testimony. This is then followed by verbatim copies of a few questions I had for Ms. Waterman and her answers…well, her answers to two out of the three questions I asked her, anyway…
“Dear Central Committee Members:
On February 19th, the Senate Committee on Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs held a hearing on SB166. Unfortunately, I was not able to be there. I have sent written testimony to the members of the committee against this bill (it’s very similar to what is below).
Today, the House Ways and Means Committee heard HB604 and HB806. While I could not come to Annapolis to testify, I sent Joe Cluster in my place and submitted the written testimony below. HB604 is the cross filed bill to SB166 (in other words, same working, same bill). These bills had several Republican co-sponsors (Hough, Folden, Parrott, Kittleman, and Miele.) HB806 was sponsored and submitted by new Republican Delegate Christian Miele.
These are not good bills. I would encourage you to contact the members of the House Ways and Means committee and the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee and ask them to vote against this bill. Here are their email addresses. You must use the “contact online” link for Sen. Cheryl Kagan (they don’t list an email for her, click here to access it and click on “contact online”)
They want to take this away from you all. Fight these bills and make sure that you all fix the problem.
I believe you have all received an email stating that I was trying to take control from the County Committees and give it to the State Party. Nothing could be further from the truth. YOU ARE THE STATE PARTY, NOT ME! I do not have a vote on what you adopt or don’t adopt. You, through your Chairmen, are in control of this document.
I am only trying to help you preserve your right to make appointments. The major objection to the lack of a statewide process to fill Legislative Vacancies is that every time a vacancy is filled there’s a different process – not only from County to County but within the County. Voters, according to their Legislators, want a consistent, predictable, and transparent process. And call me crazy but I thought it would be better for you, the members of the County Committees, to do the exercise once and adopt a Statewide Policy that was passed by the membership.
I asked your chairmen to review a DRAFT policy (that yes, I created, modeled after the Anne Arundel County process, because you have to start with something) and give their revisions/suggestions/edits. So far, I have received almost nothing substantive (thank you Joeylynn for your comments and thank you to those of you who have told me you have no changes). This was intended to be a beginning point. I have heard, although not shared directly with me, general concerns but almost nothing else. I did not send it to all of the members because I wanted to address as many possible concerns as possible – to make it as good as possible! What your Chairmen have and what you may have received is a DRAFT IN PROCESS, not a finished document. What you don’t like, change.
If your County has a process/policy that you believe addresses the concerns that have been raised, that’s great. Submit a change to the DRAFT AMENDMENT that states something like, “ This amendment will apply unless a County has a process for filling Legislative Vacancies in their bylaws” or something like that. They are your BYLAWS – write the amendment as you all want.
But if you do nothing, the Legislature will take this away from you. Maybe not this year, but they will pass something and when it goes to the voters, it will be phrased such that the voters will support it. Please do not forget that.
It’s a great day to be a Republican in Maryland!!!!
Diana Waterman, Chairman, Maryland Republican Party”
“Chairman, Vice Chairman, and Members of the Committee:
I am sorry that I could not be with you in person to testify against these bills today, however, I sent my Executive Director, Joe Cluster, in my place.
Below is my written testimony. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Both HB604 and HB806 authorize a change to the Maryland Constitution pertaining to the filling of Legislative Vacancies. Currently, that power is given to the respective Central Committee(s) of the individual creating the vacancy. Both of these bills seek to take that power away and give it someone else. In both cases, they require a special election.
Have there been some issues over the last several years in filling Legislative Vacancies? Yes. But allow the Central Committees to fix those problems themselves. The Republican State Committee is currently working to adopt a statewide policy for filling Legislative Vacancies that I believe will alleviate many of the problems that have occurred in the past.
As Chairman of the Republican Party of Maryland, I know that the elected members of the County Central Committee are the best individuals to fill these vacancies efficiently and effectively. They know their districts and are best suited to choose the nominee.
When a vacancy occurs during the Legislative Session, the seat needs to be filled quickly to maintain the representation of the District in the Legislature. The elected members of the General Assembly should be devoting their full time and attention to conducting the business of our State, not selecting the individual to fill a vacancy. Every hour spent dealing with vacancies is an hour not spent focusing on important legislative concerns. Additionally special elections will add unnecessary additional costs to each election.
Finally, these bills create a variety of concerns – neither bill preserves the Party of the individual creating the vacancy. The Constitution clearly states that the successor should be of the same Party (if there is a Party affiliation) as the person creating the vacancy. Both seek to create special elections, at additional expense to the local jurisdictions. And both seem to leave big questions about how the process will work.
In HB806, it appears that if a vacancy occurs during the first year, the vacancy shall be filled by special election occurring at the same time as the next presidential election. Does the seat sit vacant until then? Do the people in that district just have no representation? There is no stated provision to fill the seat until the special election is held. Nor does it preserve the Party of the individual who creates the vacancy (as the law does now and apparently will for any vacancy occurring after the first year). And it doesn’t state who can run or who can vote to fill the vacancy either.
In HB 604, any change in the current process for filling vacancies hinges on a local County authorizing a Special Election (to occur at the same time as the next Presidential Election). If they do so, then the members of the General Assembly of the affected Legislative District take over the nomination process instead of the Central Committee. And if the vacancy occurs in the first year, then there must be a special election with the following Presidential Election to fill the remaining two years of the term. It addresses who may run and who may vote but again does not preserve the Party of the individual who creates the vacancy – either in the Special Election or with the General Assembly nominations. Why are the members of the Legislature better equipped to choose a successor than the members of the County Committees?
Neither of these bills seems to make the process any better. In fact, I believe they will make it worse. I respectfully ask you to allow the Central Committees the chance to improve the process and keep the power of filling these vacancies by giving an Unfavorable Report on this bill.
Thank you for your time,
It’s a great day to be a Republican in Maryland!!!!
Chairman, Maryland Republican Party”
(It’s a Great Day to toss your weight to and fro…)
And, now, here’s the first set of questions I sent to Ms. Waterman:
Me: Hi, Diana – I’ve been multi-forwarded an email you wrote regarding HB 604 and SB 166. Who came up with the idea for the MDGOP to lobby for, or in this case, against these bills? They regard the filling of legislative vacancies. What of those Republicans in the legislature, Hough, Miele, etc., who either sponsored (in Miele’s case in the House) or co-sponsored – Hough, etc., in the Senate? What would you have to say to them?
Diana Waterman: What do you think I would say to them? The answer to your first question is me. I decided to testify against them. They aim to take something away from my committees. Your second question, I’m disappointed that they co-sponsored the bills and in Del. Miele’s case, I’m not happy that he submitted this bill. And I will let them know that if they don’t already know
Me: A final question, if you don’t mind? Was this statement of support YOUR statement, or is it on behalf of the MDGOP? I ask because you said that you sent (MDGOP Executive Director) Joe (Cluster) to deliver them.
Although Diana Waterman saw that third question early on Friday morning, I’ve not yet received an answer to that one.
My last question is not to Diana Waterman but is to you, dear reader: Although Diana Waterman can, and obviously did, testify on whichever bill she pleases, is it right for the MDGOP Chair to come out against any bill which has a GOP sponsor in one house and a plethora of co-sponsors in the other? And, if it’s Waterman’s testimony and not the MDGOP’s, why send the MDGOP Executive Director to deliver her written testimony and why send the email to her list of Central Committee members?
Strange Days, indeed.
15 or so minutes after I posted this piece, I did receive a message from MDGOP Chairwoman Diana Waterman, concerning my last question asked. Below, is her verbatim response:
Just read your post, I wasn’t ignoring you. I was trying to get work done, at my paying job. And I’ll probably regret this but, a little correction. The Senate bill 166 has one republican co-sponsor, Michael Hough. The house bill 664 has four republican co-sponsors, I believe. Del. Miele’s bill has no
I submitted testimony as the Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party so to answer your question, on behalf of the Party to protect the Constitutionally granted authority to the county committees to fill legislative vacancies. Unfortunately sometimes our elected republicans do not agree with us, or us with them. But they had to know we’d oppose this, as do our counterparts on the dem side.