Monday, January 9, 2012

Three Questions for Audrey Scott

Well, it’s official. Former YRNF Chair Nicolee Ambrose is facing off against former MD GOP Chair Audrey Scott to be party’s next National Committeewoman.
In reading the even-handed piece by Red Maryland’s Mark Newgent, I noticed the extent to which this race is going to be about the future versus the past. Candidate Ambrose articulated three specific, forward-looking goals she would like to accomplish, whereas candidate Scott touted her “experience” and her “forty years” of activism.
As I blogged previously, there is an opportunity to imbue the National Committeewoman’s slot with new relevance. The best way to accomplish that is to bestow it upon someone who actually wants to do something with it, as opposed to sticking with the "Gold Watch" model that has defined it in the past.
Accordingly, Nicolee Ambrose is not just the best candidate for the job, but the only candidate who can take the position to the next level. She has the experience, connections, the fundraising prowess, and the stamina the party needs.
Audrey Scott is a kindly person who should be commended for her decades of service to the party. But her running for National Committeewoman reminds me of Madonna performing at the Super Bowl halftime show.  You wonder why she feels the need to do it, other than not wanting to relinquish the stage to someone else.
For me, Scott’s candidacy raises several questions.
First, she previously served as a member of the Republican National Committee as chair of the state GOP. What does she think she’ll be able to accomplish now that she wasn’t able to get done before?
Second, if Scott really wants to serve the party, then why did she walk away from the party chairmanship after only a year?
Looking back at Scott’s brief chairmanship, one is hard-pressed to find any lasting footprint. For example, when Scott took the reins of the party in November 2009, Democrats had a two-to-one registration advantage over Republicans. When she stepped down a year later, those numbers were basically unchanged.
Further, you hear lots of talk about the structural deficit in Maryland. Well, the state GOP has one, too. Scott was hired to address the party’s dismal finances, yet failed to make lasting progress. Today the party’s financial situation is just as dismal as it was before Scott became chairman.
True, in 2010 the party made some headway in local elections. But the credit for that rests with the candidates and their own organizations. Scott’s priorities were electing Bob Ehrlich (he lost) and Andy Harris (he finally won in a district he never should have lost the first time).
Third, in 2010 Chairman Scott was criticized for supporting a waiver of Rule 11, which prevents the state party from intervening in competitive primaries, in order to funnel support to establishmentarians Ehrlich and Harris. Now, just two years later, Audrey Scott is serving as Finance Chair for the Brinkley for Congress campaign.
How can a candidate for party office – not to mention the high priestess of the Rule 11 controversy – justify the fact that she is now actively and simultaneously working to defeat one of the party’s incumbents, Congressman Roscoe Bartlett?
My fellow blogger Brian Griffiths recently reported how the Maryland Democratic Party has violated its own rules by offering a de facto endorsement to Senator Ben Cardin at the expense of his announced primary challenger, state Senator Anthony Muse.  Under these circumstances, it would be hypocritical for the MD GOP to elect as its new National Committeewoman someone who was against Rule 11 before she was for it
If she is elected, I have no doubt that Audrey Scott would ably perform the traditional, largely pro forma duties of National Committeewoman.  But electing her would translate into a missed opportunity to transform the position into something else.
Doing something one way in the past does not justify always doing it the same way in the future.
After losing the governorship and experiencing three different chairmen in five years, it is time for the state GOP to turn the page. The party needs new energy, and the only way to attract it is to groom new leaders.
Recycling the past won't build a bridge to the future.

Nor will relying on telegraph solutions in an iPhone world.


  1. NICOLEE 2012!

  2. Things will be no different no matter who wins national committeewoman. Both Scott and Ambrose are products of the establishment. Scott is from the old school and Ambrose is the new establishment. This race doesn't affect my life one way or the other, but we are in a blue state for God's sake. Nothing is not every going to change.

  3. No matter what the rule is for state party interference in party primaries; the state party establishment (no matter if it is the old or new guard) will always have their favorites.