Pressure on GOP's Pelura to resign
Pressure is mounting for Maryland Republican Chairman Jim Pelura to give up his position.
According to the Gazette newspaper, Republican lawmakers are circulating a letter that calls for Pelura’s resignation, citing problems with party registration, grass-roots organizing and fundraising.
The Gazette said that “at least half” of the 14 Republicans in the 47-person Senate have signed the letter. There are 36 Republicans in the 141-person House of Delegates.
Lawmakers are unusually harsh in their assessment of Pelura, an easy-going veterinarian with ties to former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. who faces the unenviable task of trying to lead a party crippled in recent elections in a state that appears to be trending to the left.
"I would be hard-pressed if asked to state what his accomplishments are or even what his priorities have been since he's been in office," Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr. of Cecil County is quoted as saying in the Gazette. "It's clear the party's rudderless. There's a lack of direction."
Added Senate Minority Leader Senate Allan H. Kittleman: "I don't think the party is in a position now to provide the assistance necessary to support Republican candidates in 2010."
In February, the Baltimore Sun’s Laura Smitherman was among the first to report on discontent with Pelura, when Del. Christopher Shank, the minority whip from Washington County, told her that he had "no confidence" in Pelura, adding that the chairman has not focused on his duties and meddled in caucus affairs.
But could anyone do a better job overseeing the party right now? If not Pelura, then who? Ehrlich remains on the sidelines; Michael Steele has moved to the national stage; state Sen. Andy Harris is gearing up for another congressional run; U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett has never shown interest in party building. Party enrollment is falling behind Democrats, and there’s a Democrat a few miles down the road in the White House. Not a pretty picture.
What can be done to help Republicans in Maryland? Is Pelura part of the solution, or part of the problem? What’s your view?