“Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks: It is not less essential to the steady administration of the laws, to the protection of property against those irregular and high handed combinations, which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of justice, to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of faction and of anarchy.”
But energy is an important and necessary quality to have across the political system. Recently, I thought about
words as I contemplated some of the leaders who have emerged as new forces
Nicolee Ambrose’s defeat of Audrey Scott in the National Committeewoman’s race is, it could be argued, evidence of a larger trend happening across state Republicans’ ranks. In 2010, even as establishmentarian Bob Ehrlich went down to defeat, the party picked up 47 new officeholders, primary at the local level of government.
Many of these people are new to politics. And, virtually all of them won due to their own efforts, and are therefore not beholden to the individuals who have populated the party’s ranks for decades.
In other words, they are not content to sit and wait until someone else in the party has decided that their time has come.
And, most importantly, many of the newcomers have hit the ground running, and are making their presence known through by contributing their hard work, innovation, and – yes – new energy to the party.
Let me give you four examples of GOP leaders bringing new energy to the state's minority party:
Hillary Foster Pennington: Pennington is a commodity too often lacking in the party: A young mom with young kids who decided to make the time for politics. So, she ran for and was elected to the Baltimore County Central Committee. From there she became active in several campaigns and as a legislative staffer in
In between all of that, this marketing professional started a new business venture
– Purple Elephant Politics – and began hosting a weekly Internet radio show which
is now a must listen to, or must appear on, affair for GOP politicos. When it
comes to GOP politics, Pennington was nowhere and is now seemingly everywhere.
Her experience is one I would like to see repeated.
Delegate Neil Parrott: Republicans in
Annapolis are outgunned when it comes to
legislation. The only potential tool available to them – the power of the
referendum to put questionable laws in front of voters – has not been used
since 1992. Freshman Delegate Neil Parrott changed all that. Through MD Petitions, Parrott simplified the
signature gathering process for petitions. Because of his efforts, and the
efforts of volunteers, now one and likely two referenda items will appear on the
ballot in 2012. In essence, he took a moribund process and made it a real tool
with which the minority can combat the excesses of the state’s ruling
Democratic establishment. In the process, he empowered all Maryland citizens to play a more active role in state
Delegate Mike Smigiel: Delegate Smigiel has been a member of the legislature since 2003, but it took the power of social media to acquaint me with his activities. During the 2012 legislative session, he emerged as one of the most effective agents of pushback against Democratic efforts to increase taxes. Very often, GOP legislators in
Annapolis speak with discordant voices,
thereby diluting their collective message. But, I noticed that Delegate Smigel
emerged as a frequently-quoted legislator. I attribute this to his regular
blogging, as well as the fact that he is good at delivering cogent messages.
Delegate Smigiel also assumed personal responsibility for assuring a good turnout
at Monday’s planned anti-tax rally in Lawyers’ Mall. Clearly he is not a guy
who stands around waiting for others to step up. This dive-in mentality is refreshing.
Dan Bongino: I blogged about Bongino before, specifically why I felt he was the best candidate to oppose Senator Ben Cardin in November. Barring some major seismic event on the state’s political landscape, I am still not convinced it is possible for any GOP candidate to win a statewide election in
Maryland. What I like about Bongino,
however, is he lacks the confining past experiences that have driven some political
observers – this one included – towards such cynical, automatic conclusions. He
decided to run because he had something to say. There is something Capraesque
about that. In the process, he has emerged as one of the more exciting
candidates for statewide office the party has had in a while.
I hope each of these exciting newcomers remains active. And, I hope other newcomers are inspired to join their ranks. Based on what we see coming out of
these days, it has never been more important for the state’s minority party to function.
Let’s hope new energy translates into increased functionality.