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GOP Legislators Reject Pelura's Push for 'Contract With Maryland'

Republican Party

James Pelura may be staying put as chairman of the Maryland GOP, but the infighting has hardly subsided among the state's Republican leaders.

The latest spat centers on Pelura's plans to develop a "Contract with Maryland" heading into the 2010 elections -- an effort to replicate the Republican success nationally with 1994's Contract with America.

Well, two important people aren't quite on board with the process: House Minority Leader Anthony J. O'Donnell (R-Calvert) and House Minority Whip Christopher B. Shank (R-Washington).

In an e-mail last week, Pelura informed O'Donnell and Senate Minority Leader Allan H. Kittleman (R-Howard) that he had asked Mykel Harris, chairman of the Prince George's GOP Central Committee, to head a commission to develop the contract. The commission, Pelura wrote, would include state and local Republican party officials, members of GOP clubs and other Republican activists.

"Of course, to fully round out this commission, and to present to all Marylanders that we (Republicans) mean business, we must have the cooperation and input from the Republicans in the Maryland General Assembly," Pelura told O'Donnell and Kittleman. "I ask both of you to give this serious thought and forward me the names of a Republican senator and delegate that you would prefer be a part of this group. You both are more than welcome to be part of this or appoint someone. Your choice."

O'Donnell and Shank responded this week with some choice words. The bottom line: Legislators, and not the party chairman, should take the lead in developing any contract, they said in an e-mail back to Pelura.

"The Contract with America, in 1994, was developed by experienced policymakers in the Congress under the leadership of the House Minority Whip at the time, Newt Gingrich, with assistance from many other members like Dick Armey of Texas," O'Donnell and Shank wrote. "The policymaking experience and political expertise for such an endeavor similarly exists within our joint caucus membership. ... We know the policy, and we know how such policy relates to winning elections."

The letter also repeats, at some length, previous complaints aired about Pelura's leadership. We leave you with a choice excerpt:

"We continue to have a lack of confidence in this chairman to prepare the party for statewide quadrennial elections just 15 months away. He seems to want to focus efforts into the policy arena while falling down on core fundamentals of party building activities. It is our political opinion that the state party chairman should excel at some very fundamental items before he delves into the realm of policy making. In our opinion, the chairman should be focused on improving the fundraising performance of our state party. He is still paying off debt that he has incurred years later, and we are less than five months away from being in a quadrennial statewide election year. ... Maybe he hopes someone in Washington will magically send us a bailout for the Maryland GOP. How does the MDGOP criticize the Dem's for out of control spending, a bailout mentality, or spending beyond their means, with this situation hanging out there?"

-- John Wagner

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  August 12, 2009; 2:57 PM ET
Categories:  John Wagner , Republican Party  
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