Rascovar Commentary: Is the end near for Maryland Republicans?

MarylandReporter.com welcomes Barry Rascovar as a regular contributor. We have been linking to his columns in the daily roundup for years, but we will be publishing his columns simultaneously with his own blog, PoliticalMaryland.com. Rascovar has been reporting and commenting on Maryland and national politics and government since 1971, first for the Baltimore Sun, then the Gazette of Politics and Business and The Community Times.

In the future, we hope to add commentary from other writers, from the right, left and center, in addition to the many editorials and op-eds we link to in the daily State Roundup.

–Len Lazarick, Editor



Barry RascovarBy Barry Rascovar

It’s hard to tell how things can get worse for Maryland’s Republican Party:

Maryland delegation chairman Louis Pope and Mike Pappas hold the Maryland floor sign.

Maryland delegation chairman Louis Pope and Mike Pappas hold the Maryland floor sign at 2012 GOP convention in Tampa.


  •   A nasty civil war is raging on the Upper Eastern Shore over replacing one of the GOP’s few bright lights, state Sen. E. J. Pipkin, who opted to pursue a master’s degree in sports management in Texas.
  •   The Lower Eastern Shore’s GOP senator, Richard Colburn, is trying to explain to auditors (and the public) why he reimbursed himself from his campaign fund for $4,600 worth of Oriole baseball tickets, $23,000 in meals, $3,900 in lodging, $3,400 in gas and $600 for flowers.
  •   An Anne Arundel County delegate got himself arrested yet again for potentially lethal intoxication, this time while driving a weaving car at 70 mph with an expired license. Don Dwyer refuses to take the hint from colleagues to resign. He’s got a serious addiction he needs to address before he’s fit for elective office.
  •   The latest state GOP staff director to resign is David Ferguson. His sudden departure fueled reports Ferguson was fed up with the new party chair, Diana Waterman, who won her job in a disputed, internecine internal election. (She replaced ex-Sen. Alex Mooney, who left Maryland to run in a Republican-friendly congressional district in West Virginia.) The state party once again is short on cash and lacks the kinds of candidates to filed a viable statewide ticket next year.
Maryland Republican Chairman Alex Mooney speaks at party convention.

Maryland Republican Chairm Alex Mooney speaks at a 2012 party convention. He has since resigned.

What a pathetic situation.

Bickering Eastern Shore Republicans are so torn they could hand their hated foe, Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, the power to name the next Upper Shore senator. Not only is the GOP losing its most articulate Senate spokesman, the party could end up losing this seat in 2014.

Indeed, Senate Republicans might well find themselves greatly diminished next year. Democrats could pick up Sen. Allan Kittleman’s seat in Howard County when he runs for county executive, the seat of retiring Sen. Nancy Jacobs in Harford County and possibly Pipkin’s old seat if the squabbling Upper Shore Republicans savage each other in a brutal primary, as seems likely.

You have to wonder why the commotion. Republicans have made themselves irrelevant in Maryland’s populous midsection. The chances of electing a Republican in Baltimore City or Prince George’s County, for instance, come down to Slim and None — and Slim left town decades ago.

Shrinking Voter Appeal

Except in rural counties and a few suburban outposts, the state GOP is Maryland’s incredible shrinking party.

GOP elephant Democratic donkey logos by DonkeyHotey

By DonkeyHotey on Flickr

Ten years ago, 30% of Maryland voters registered Republican. That is now down to 25%. Even independents outnumber Republicans by 9,000 in Montgomery County, 13,000 in Prince George’s and 19,000 in Baltimore City.

The news isn’t much better in important Republican strongholds. Since 2003, Frederick County  Democrats have added nearly twice as many voters to its rolls as did Republicans. Independent voters increased twice as fast as new GOP registrants, too.

In Harford County, independent registrants since 2003 equal the number of new GOP voters.

In Anne Arundel County, Democrats, not Republicans, registered more new voters in the past 10 years; both parties were eclipsed by a wide margin by new independent voters.

In Baltimore County, which contains the largest number of Republicans, independent voters registered at twice the rate as Republicans; the number of new Democratic voters grew three times as fast.

Grand Old Party no more

The state’s Grand Old Party is no longer grand, is not aging well and is not much of a political party. The battle between pragmatic conservatives and ideological purists looks like a bunch of vultures fighting over the scant remains of an unrecognizable skeleton.

This follows a trend in many other urban states where the GOP no longer has a message that resonates with voters. It seems lost on a stormy sea.

More and more it is turning into a party of neo-Dixiecrats — hostile to minorities of all stripes; hostile to immigrants; hostile to the poor; hostile to government spending regardless of its purpose; hostile to federal authority of any kind, and incendiary in its seething hatred of a president who is both black and liberal.

It is not a pretty picture. Look around the country where Missouri Republicans voted to outlaw federal gun-law enforcement. Look at North Carolina and Texas where Republicans voted to deter blacks and Hispanics from voting. Look at Arizona and other Republican states that voted to nullify federal immigration policies.

Today’s Republican Party, both in Maryland and nationally, lacks a coherent set of values and beliefs that can capture statewide offices in Annapolis or the national presidency.

The upcoming insanity in Washington over raising the nation’s debt ceiling (let’s not pay our IOUs) and notching up sequestration’s budget screws could come to symbolize the growing futility and disintegration of the GOP.

It’s no longer the Party of Lincoln — and that’s the greatest tragedy.

Barry Rascovar can be reached at brascovar@hotmail.com, or post a comment on www.politicalmaryland.com this site.





About The Author

Len Lazarick


Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of MarylandReporter.com and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Marina

    Yes, Barry is right on this one, although not for the reasons he advances. He argues that the GOP must become more “mainstream” to succeed, where in truth, that’s what’s killing them. Rascovar (and the rest of the media) are all liberals, and what they want is the public to be able to choose between two lefties. In that way, the left always wins. Notice that it is Barry Rascovar, a committed lefty reporter/columnist, who is throwing out advice on what the Republican Party is doing wrong. Shouldn’t common sense tell you that there’s something wrong with this picture?

    But as a conservative Democrat who almost always voted for the Republican candidate, I’ve given up on the Republicans as well. I’m not sure exactly when I jumped off the train, but I think it was after Saurebrey’s defeat. All who followed after her in the GOP were the type of Republicans that brought a smile to Roscavar’s lips––beginning with Ehrlich (or should I say “the Ehrichs”). But all the rest (Hogan, Pipkin, Colburn, Kittleman, Jacobs, Bongino you name um) are all simply “politicians” trying to masquerade as conservatives. The truth is they have no real ideology, but present themselves as whatever they think will get them elected. To site one simple example, ask any one of them where they are on homosexuality today, and they’ll tell you that they’re either okay with it or have no strong opinion. But it wasn’t that many years ago each would have gladly taken a soapbox to exclaim how “disordered” it was. To a man and a women, each have adopted the acceptable sobriquet, “gay”, when they make reference to it, and the word “homosexual” (like the “N” word) will not be uttered from their lips. In short, none have a core. And lest you believe this is how it’s always been in politics, you are quite wrong. There once was a day in this country and in this state when both Republicans and Democrats had genuine political courage. They had true core values and they were not afraid to stand up for them. It was a while ago, but Barry can remember them well. he didn’t agree with the conservatives, of course, but I have no doubt that he respected them for standing up and saying what they believed

    So, in truth, Barry is correct––the party’s over, since there’s no real difference between the D’s and the R’s, either in Maryland or elsewhere. And to be quite blunt, it’s understandable. In spite of what Limbaugh says, this country has tipped very much to the left, and it’s not coming back. So. unless you simply favor political suicide, you can’t blame the phony politician for trying to become what they think might get them elected. Bot surprisingly, therefore, in Maryland the Republican candidates have been looking for that soft middle ground where they can pretend to be conservative without offending the press (and the majority of voters). Unfortunately for them, there are enough true conservatives that don’t depend on TV for their news that have seen through the charade, and not enough RINO’s to get them elected.

    But is there a solution for the GOP? Probably not. America and Maryland have decided they like socialism and big government, they like the idea that they morality is something that is set by the individual (and not by God), and what’s really important in life is to have a good time––without hurting someone else’s feelings of course. That would just be mean-spirited.

  2. Angie Boyter

    Oh, come on! Your basic message, with which I tend to agree, would be a lot more convincing without the extreme exaggerations! FOR EXAMPLE: Being concerned about raising the debt ceiling is NOT equivalent to not being willing to pay your debts. It is saying, “We have borrowed enough. It is time to start living within our means.” If we do not, we’ll NEVER be able to pay our debts.

  3. JGwen

    “Shrinking Voter Appeal”

    To me the issue is “Shrinking Maryland Appeal.” In a land entrapped in the clutches of radical progressives plundering all sources of “revenue” to the hilt and with the only light in regional horizon apparently sinking into the sea with the next election, full scale flight may be the only answer. When Maryland and sadly potentially Virginia join the California, Illinois, Detroit, New York leads, the only rational escape will be to follow the “Pipkin” style solution. Its sad that some of the most attractive environs are following the Greek example. Keep the escape routes open!

  4. ksteve

    Indeed, the Republican Party nationally and in Maryland seems like a sinking ship and that’s just fine with me. But, just as there’s no way a Republican can get elected in Baltimore City or Prince George’s (or Montgomery or maybe Charles), there is also no way any Democrat (especially the “anti-choice” one the powers that be have annointed) could get elected to replace State Senator Allan Kittleman in LD9. Even if Hillary or Bill Clinton moved into western Howard County and decided to run for that position, they couldn’t win in that very Republican territory. It’s like Carroll County extended out there. Overall, the Democrats in the Senate may already be at the peak of their numbers. It’s in the House of Delegates (but, again, not in western Howard County) where redistricting should cause the Dems to pick up a few seats and add to their majority.

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