FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Maryland Conservative Petitions: Conservative Activism at its Best
Maryland is such a liberal stronghold that Democrats could not possibly lose power, even if they tried their hardest to receive the pink slip from voters in the state. According to Gallup, Democrats in Maryland enjoy a greater party ID advantage over Republicans than in any other state. Yet a committed group of conservatives, led by freshman Delegate Neil Parrott(R-Hagerstown), have successfully spearheaded three petition drives to potentially strike down onerous laws passed by state legislature; the Maryland DREAM Act, gay marriage, and a convoluted redistricting map.
Like most blue state Republicans, Neil Parrott could have remained a benchwarmer, hopelessly and helplessly standing idle while Democrats impose a statist utopia. Pursuing statewide office in Maryland is a near-insurmountable task due to the double-whammy urban effect of Baltimore and D.C. But Neil Parrot and a small group of conservatives decided to mobilize where they felt it was possible to win – taking the case directly to the people via referendum petitions. They succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.
In recent years, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has become the most pro-growth governor in the country…well, the most pro-growth governor for Virginia and Pennsylvania. O’Malley has raised so many taxes during his two terms in Annapolis that there is now a wholesale flight from the state, especially among the rich – those who pay most of the taxes. But while 31,000 taxpayers are chased out of the state, O’Malley decided to welcome in all of the illegal aliens to the state – those whom O’Malley affectionately calls “new Americans.”
Last May, O’Malley signed a bill granting in-state tuition benefits at state universities to illegal aliens residing in Maryland. While many Republicans nationally are ambivalent about their views on this radical initiative, Parrott decided to take the fight directly to the people, even in the bluest of blue states. When Parrott embarked on his mission, most politicos in the state scoffed at the petition drive. After all, a state law had not been struck down by referendum since 1974.
Undeterred by the enormous task of gathering almost 56,000 signatures with very limited funds, Parrott established a revolutionary online petition drive at mdpetitions.com. The political class was absolutely stupefied by the results. Despite the best efforts from lawyers at the criminal CASA de Maryland organization to disqualify the petition, MDPetitions turned in a record 132,071 signatures! Over a third of the signatures came from Democrat and Independent voters. CASA launched lawsuit after lawsuit to thwart the referendum, but to no avail. To some in the GOP, this might be a losing cause, but evidently, it’s quite a winning issue in the most Democrat state in the country.
After New York and much of New England passed laws recognizing homosexual relationships as legal marriages, Democrats felt that Maryland would be the next logical target. There aren’t too many other states where they enjoy unchecked power. But the dynamic in Maryland is more complicated than most other Democrat states. Much of the Democrat majority in the legislature is built upon the large black constituencies in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. This sort of thing doesn’t resonate with them. Democrats had already tried to push gay marriage in 2011, but the law was defeated by black legislators in the House of Delegates.
Unfortunately, as was the case in the New York, wayward Republicans wound up voting for the gay marriage law, granting the left their ultimate prize. Two Republican delegates – who had never previously expressed support for gay marriage – inexplicably voted with the Democrats. But this time we were ready with the online petition site, and hit the ground from day one. After just 4 months, MdPetitions and the Maryland Marriage Alliance submitted 162,224 petitions to the board of elections. Chalk up another conservative victory in a blue state, on an issue that is supposedly a liability for our side.
Almost every state has a horror story about gerrymandering and egregious district boundaries, but none compare to Maryland. In order to achieve a 6-2 majority in the congressional delegation, Maryland Democrats have spliced up Baltimore City into 4 districts. When the immediate suburbs are factored in, there are a total of 6 districts in the Baltimore metro area. Take a look at the 3rd district, which is possibly the most gerrymandered district in the country. A federal judge called it a “broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.”
The biggest innovation of this year’s redistricting map is what they did to western Maryland. Conservative western Maryland has always enjoyed its own district that reflected its demography, culture, and geography. But in an effort to win a 7th seat in the state (in the 1st district currently held by Roscoe Bartlett), Democrats divided up western Maryland into two districts, joining the rural areas with the D.C. suburbs and urban areas in Montgomery County.
As you can imagine, it’s not an easy task focusing voters on the intricacies of a political map. How do you get people riled up about such an “intangible” issue without a bumper sticker rallying cry, especially when most of them are worn out from the last two petitions? Nonetheless, an indefatigable group of Tea Party activists stood outside of sundry social events in unbearable heat in order to eke out a few more signatures. In another shocker, the board of elections announced last week that the requisite 56,000+ signatures had been validated, paving the way for the third referendum to be placed on the November ballot.
Now, thanks to the impregnable efforts of a small cadre of conservative activists, Marylanders will have the opportunity to vote to block handouts for illegals, preserve marriage, and throw out a map that can permanently sway the balance of several congressional seats. Even though Maryland Republicans face insurmountable odds in defeating Obama on top of the ballot, they will have more than one good reason to turn out in strong numbers on Election Day. Not bad work for a state like Maryland.
In deep blue states like Maryland, an incorrigible majority of the citizens will vote for Democrats when presented with a choice between two individuals. However, when the effort is made to appeal to the innate commonsense of many of these voters, they will vote the right way on the issues. This is how we must break through the inviolate power of blue state America. No, it’s not the same as electing conservatives, but it is a great start, and it serves as a much-needed moral boost for those who suffer the despair of living in blue state America.
Cross-posted from The Madison Project