Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Care For Some Whine With Your Cheese, Harford Dems?

I’m still chuckling over the plight of Harford County Democrats, who have gotten themselves shut out of the local councilmanic redistricting process because they failed to follow rules they originally wrote themselves.

To recap, the county’s charter – approved by a Democratic Harford County Council when the Democrats were still the county’s majority party - requires a political party to pass a 15 percent electoral threshold before they can receive guaranteed representation on the decennial redistricting panel. The Democrats, who did not run candidates in three of the county’s six council districts or for the council presidency, failed to reach that threshold. Consequently, the Harford County Council, by a partisan 5-2 vote, appointed only Republicans to the panel which will draw the new lines using U. S. Census data.

I’d be hard pressed to improve on the excellent op-ed The Sun’s Andy Green wrote on this particular matter. But, I’d like to make a few observations about the excuses Harford Democrats have been throwing around.

You’ve heard of the five stages of grief, right? Well, the comments coming from senior Harford County Democrats seem to hint at a “three stages of screwing up” process.

The first stage: Blame others. "Republicans here are so tea-partied up that they think they don't even have to include us," The Sun quotes Harford Democratic chairman Wendy Sawyer as saying. "This originally was a clear attempt to keep fringe parties from participating in redistricting. To suggest that we are a fringe party is outrageous."

If you’re not a fringe party, then act like it. In other words, field candidates for public office. Had Harford Democrats left no local race uncontested, then they would not be in the predicament they now find themselves.

The second stage: Profess ignorance. "Nobody realized the consequences of not fielding candidates," Chairman Wendy explained. "If we had, we would have challenged the charter as it is written at that time."

As the chair of the local Democratic Party, Sawyer has an obligation to her partisans to know and communicate the rules. There really isn’t anything else to say besides that.

The third stage: Make threats. The Harford County Democratic Central Committee – with backing from the Maryland Democratic Party – is threatening legal action, in effect to challenge the legality of the charter written and passed by its own partisans.

I guess the silly season never really ends in Maryland politics.

Of all the quotes I read relative to this matter, my favorite came from Harford Democratic activist (and rejected redistricting panel nominee) George Harrison, who concluded this episode is all about "the arrogance of power."

Arrogance, indeed.

Statewide, Democrats in Maryland still enjoy a super-advantage over Republicans. Perhaps even Democrats in majority Republican localities believe that they can fail to obey their own rules and still come out on top by whining, histrionics, and threats.

For their sake, I hope Harford Democrats jettison the hapless Chairman Wendy in favor of someone more competent. And, I hope that majority Republicans set an example by guaranteeing a fair outcome for all Harford residents once the redistricting process ends.


  1. The Black Hand must have hit them with the stupid-stick several times before the filing deadline for the last cycle.

    -Gavrilo Princip

  2. If the Maryland Democratic Party wants to challenge the legality of excluding Democrats from the Harford Redistricting Commission, they'd better first tell the Prince George's Co. Council to pick two people from the list of nominees for the Prince George's Co. Redistricting Commission submitted by the Republican Central Committee for Prince George's Co., instead of hiding behind an identical 15% threshold here. Otherwise, they might just be accused of hypocrisy.

  3. Given they both wrote the rules and their compadres in PG used the same tactic, HarCo Dems have nothing to whine about except their own idiocy.

  4. Well, the left may have screwed up, but now it's up to the right to act fairly and without bias. Just because they can take political advantage of a situation doesn't mean they should -- or else it will come back to bite them later. Not something they can afford in this state.