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Bartlett: Democrats' failings will benefit GOP

May 02, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- As Democrats strengthen their federal control, U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., said he feels ambivalent.

Even while outnumbered, Republicans can fight full bore for their causes. Or they can be content to watch Democrats overspend and make bad policy decisions, benefiting the GOP, Bartlett said.

The conventional wisdom, he said, is "when your enemy is committing suicide, you shouldn't interfere."

Bartlett addressed the Maryland GOP's spring convention on Saturday at the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center in Hagerstown.

"Help is on the way. Things are looking up. Arlen Specter has switched parties," Bartlett said, drawing laughter and applause.

Specter, a U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, announced Tuesday he's switching his affiliation from Republican to Democrat. With Al Franken's expected victory in Minnesota, Democrats appear to be near 60 votes, a filibuster-proof majority, in the Senate.

In an interview after Bartlett spoke, Maryland GOP Chairman Dr. James Pelura said he expects the policies of President Obama and Gov. Martin O'Malley to have a "devastating effect," boosting the GOP's alternative positions.

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"I'm with Rush Limbaugh," Bartlett said during his speech. "He had the courage to say that he was not going to say that he wanted Barack Obama to succeed."

"Don't confuse wanting our country to do well and come back with wishing Barack Obama success," he added.

Afterward, Philip Baker-Shenk, a member of the Washington County Republican Central Committee, said Democrats' shortcomings show the "stark contrast" of the GOP's push for less spending and regulation and more freedom and individual responsibility.

"I say, country first before party," said Marilee Kerns, the county central committee's chairwoman. "I'm not going to stand by and let them go down a road that I don't believe in to hope for imminent failure. I'm gonna fight the fight."

Even as Democrats make mistakes, Republicans need to pursue ideals and be more inclusive, Central Committee member Mildred "Mickey" Myers said.

If the Democrats reach 60 votes in the Senate, "on the surface, it looks like (Republicans) don't have a snowball's chance in Hades of doing anything," Pelura said.

But conservative Democrats might rebel from a liberal agenda, making it "dangerous" for Democrats to count on 60 votes, he said.

Bartlett also presented ideas for a health-care plan and encouraged GOP advocates to be organized at election time.

Next year, if every Maryland Republican displays a bumper sticker for the GOP gubernatorial candidate, the party will win, he said.

Chair says GOP waiting for Ehrlich's decision



Democrat Martin O'Malley has said he's running for re-election as Maryland's governor next year.

Who will he face?

The Republicans don't know yet.

In December, Baltimore County resident Michael Pappas announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination.

The rest of the party is waiting on former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Dr. James Pelura, Maryland's GOP chairman, said Saturday at the party's spring convention in Hagerstown.

Ehrlich hasn't committed. Since losing to O'Malley in 2006, Ehrlich has said the political climate would dictate whether he runs again.

"There's a few other credible candidates that are out there," Pelura said. "They would be formidable candidates. They're waiting to see what Bob Ehrlich does. Nobody wants to run against Bob Ehrlich in a primary. And so I would implore Bob Ehrlich to decide ...

"That's the hook. If he would announce, good, we could go forward. If he would announce that he's not running, we could go forward that way as well, too."

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