Monday, October 1, 2012

The GOP Is Changing Chairmen in Baltimore County

So, over the weekend I got the word from various people that Baltimore County GOP Chairman Steve Kolbe had announced his resignation as chairman of the Baltimore County Republican Central Committee, throwing his support to Vice Chairman Al Mendelsohn as his successor.

To get to the bottom of this, I sent a Facebook message to Kolbe (he opened the message but did not respond) and Mendelsohn (he did). In the meantime, someone sent me a copy of Kolbe’s valedictory message to Central Committee members, which I reproduced, unedited, below (I omitted Kolbe's contact information.)

Kolbe isn’t resigning. Rather, he is ineligible to seek another term because he is not presently a member of the Central Committee. Whereas the chairmanship of the Baltimore County Central Committee was previously determined by a countywide vote during the GOP primary in non-presidential election years, the law was changed to make the position elected by, and from, the Central Committee members themselves. Further, the term of the chairman was shortened from four years to two, meaning that – under the new law – it will be time for the Central Committee to elect its new chairman in November.

I plan to focus on the race to succeed Kolbe – by all accounts, an effective and diligent chairman – in a future blog entry. There are a lot of able candidates among present Central Committee members – Al Mendelsohn among them. At the moment it seems to be his to lose.

Still, I would like to see more women ascend to leadership roles in the MDGOP. So I hope at least one viable female candidate will emerge as a possible future chairman.

And, yes, Hillary Foster Pennington, I’m talking about you.

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Dear BCRCC Team:

We have accomplished so much together over the past year and a half! During this term, we have grown the movement, increasing not just our credibility and rightful prominence within the Republican Party, but we increased our party's strength in our jurisdiction, while our opponents withered away. We have done our part to evangelize the Republican brand in our community while holding Democrats accountable for their actions, we have helped our candidates succeed, we have exerted real influence on important issues throughout the state, we have identified our culture of who we truly are and who we truly should be, and we have done so, so much more. Most importantly, we have reformed our committee; we now have the right to self-determine our leaders, we have an empowered committee structure, and we truly are a united, vibrant, respected, and active force for good in the community.

We still have much work to do before this election is over, but it's time to start shifting some attention to our upcoming meeting. One of the most important things we will do is ensure a solid foundation for our future by nominating the candidates for a new officer corps that will serve for the next two years.

You have been an inspiration and have given me memories I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Your wisdom when unleashed, is reliably effective and routinely right. One of the most important times we exerted this wisdom was in the activities subsequent to the passage of SB85. Our implementation of this change in the law did three things: first, it made the position of Chairman, as it exists at this moment, defunct; second, it called for an election to be held once every two years; and, third, it called for the officer corps to be elected from within the membership of the BCRCC once every two years, except for the Treasurer who is elected every two years with the rest of the officer corps but does not need to be a BCRCC member.

I stood with you in unanimity, supporting this measure, eyes open in the knowledge that, as I ceased to be a member when I took this office of Chairman, these changes were making me ineligible to run for another term this November. I stood with you on those changes because I agree. It's the right way to do it!

As you move forward in the next chapter of this journey together, I am confident that our party has a solid foundation and the tools to succeed. Please take confidence in the knowledge that I have been working diligently to ensure seamless continuity. The assets we built will be transferred, and this organization will be set up to continue onward and upward. 
Two things to know:

A leader never leaves a vacuum

Outstanding organizations have a solid succession plan. That's why volunteer organizations like ours frequently regard a vice-chair or vice-president as the individual(s) who are in training to take over the leadership position one day.

Throughout all the things we have done over the past year, I want you to know that Al Mendelsohn and I have been good friends and excellent partners in success. Where I was weak, Al was strong. Al was always there when I needed help. Even if he was not the face or the voice, he and I worked side by side on nearly everything, and his mark is, in one way or another, on nearly everything we have done. In fact over the past six months since the passage of our reforms, I have been working closely with Al to ensure he has all the tools he feels he needs to continue on as Chairman, and that you have the ability to choose this path, should it be your wish to do so.

In a conversation between Al and I yesterday, we talked about ideas for the future. What I heard was exciting and left me with a feeling of confidence. Also, Al's recent diagnosis does not change my feelings that he is an outstanding choice for a successor; since his procedure, he has reassured me that he is well, getting better every day, and just as enthusiastic as ever about the Republican Party.

Our assets have been cared for

Our stock in trade is our information and our ideas. As you know, we built an infrastructure from the ground up. The databases and files in my possession are the intellectual property of the BCRCC. They will be transferred over to the succeeding leadership, and I will remain involved so long as is necessary to affect a full and complete transfer of all knowledge. I hope that which we built during our time together can be further improved upon in the future, and that it will serve to smooth the transition between next generations of leaders, and preserve the hard work of generations past, for decades to come.

As we have one gathering left before the current term comes to a close, this is a bittersweet moment. This time has been one of the most personally enriching experiences of my entire life. I have learned so much, and you have changed me into a better person... but words will never be able to do justice to express how you have indeed transformed me. Thank you so much for giving me this honor and this opportunity. I am forever in your gratitude.

And now, while I shall clear the way for new generations of leaders to make their mark upon this great party in this great county, I look forward to once again becoming a citizen activist, to continuing my love of volunteerism for the party and its people, as this movement continues to turn the tide and eventually, one day, vanquishes the liberal progressive agenda and turns this county into a citadel of Republican strength in Maryland!

Sincerely Yours,
Stephen V. Kolbe

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