Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thank God for MCDCC (Updated)

Now I know you're shocked to read that statement from me. But I mean it, I really do!

Yes, we didn't know who the Frick was Bill. Yes, we got a bit ticked at them. Yes, we think they eat too many bon-bons in that castle of theirs. Yes, the House Majority Leader made fun of them in a roomful of bloggers. And now MCDCC Member Marc Korman wants to jack up my gas tax. But things could be worse. We could have the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee.

Consider the silky-smooth job they did in selecting Senator Gwendolyn Britt's successor. Their pick, County Council Member David Harrington, endorsed Michael Steele for Senate in 2006. The runner-up, former Delegate Rushern Baker, refused to rule out running for County Executive. (The reigning County Executive, whom Baker ran against last time, cheered his defeat.) The only female candidate, Delegate Jolene Ivey, received no votes. Another losing candidate, Delegate Victor Ramirez, immediately vowed to run against the winner for Senate. (He told the crowd, "I’m going to ask for this seat the way I should. I’m going to come to you for your vote." So why was he running for appointment?)

But the line of the night belonged to the former Senator's husband, Travis Britt, who was also running for the seat. According to the Gazette:

Britt, [county substitute teacher Kenniss Odetta] Henry and Ramirez withdrew their names from consideration early in the meeting, with Britt citing the vicious politics – he claimed backroom deals and mudslinging were rampant – for the succession race.

"These demons are after me, but I’m going to dispel these evil spirits. I am withdrawing," Britt said to the crowd, who gave him a standing ovation.
OK, I promise here and now to never call the MCDCC evil spirits. That is, unless you select someone who endorsed Michael Steele to fill one of our seats!

The Washington Post's story makes clear that Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson lobbied hard to defeat Baker and possibly even decided the outcome. Now that's understandable: many politicians will go to great lengths to punish enemies. But the thought of how easily the District 47 appointment process was manipulated makes my skin crawl. It requires much more effort for politicians or political power brokers to manipulate thousands of real, live voters than a handful of Central Committee members. That's why so many politicians are so comfortable with the status quo. The District 47 case makes at least as good of an argument for special elections as anything MCDCC has done.