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Maryland GOP Finds Hope In 1988 Election
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August 31, 2012
Nathan Sterner: Maryland’s delegation to the Republican National Convention liked what they heard lat night during GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney's acceptance speech. Here's Chris Rosenthal, the Treasurer of the state Republican Party:
Chris Rosenthal: I thought he hit it out of the park. He did exactly what he needed to do. He brought his human side to bear. He talked about... Barack Obama being a nice guy but not a good leader. He hasn't got the job done; it's time for a change.
Sterner: That sentiment was echoed by Alex Mooney, former State Senator from Western Maryland and current Chairman of the state GOP:
Alex Mooney: I thought it was great, very inspiring, the message was clear, and yeah, we're excited to go out and win that election.
Sterner: But not all Maryland delegates are confident that they'll be able to put the state in the Romney column come November. Indeed, history isn't on their side -- the last time that Maryland went Republican was 1988. But there is some hope to be found in that election, as WYPR’s Art Buist reports.
Art Buist: Maryland’s delegation to the convention is a mixture new and old GOP activists. Among them is Howard Denis who served as a Senator from Montgomery County from 1977 through 1995. This is his 7th convention. He remembers being inspired to run for office as a young man.
Senator Howard Denis: I actually saw the Republican Convention on Television in 1952, when the Governor of Maryland, Theodore Roosevelt McKelden, a Republican of course, nominated Dwight David Eisenhower.
Buist: Republican Eisenhower easily won Maryland that year. But Maryland has been a pretty reliable Democratic state; although it went for Nixon in ‘72, Reagan in ‘84, and George H. W. Bush in 1988. Otherwise, it has been solidly Democratic. It’s been 24 years since the Republican has gotten Maryland’s Electoral votes. Senator Denis said the 1988 Republican victory surprised many.
Denis: At that particular time Maryland was considered a safe Democratic state, and in fact it is now, but when the results came in election night in 1988, low and behold, Maryland went for Bush!
Buist: Denis believes that for a Presidential Campaign to succeed in Maryland it must craft a message that can appeal to several diverse groups of voters.
Denis: Maryland is not called America in Miniature for nothing.
Buist: In 1988, Republican George H.W. Bush got 51% of the Maryland vote, and Democrat Michael Dukakis, got 48%. Denis says the key was getting the vote out.
Denis: I do remember that we did very well in the Baltimore suburbs, and that the margin in Baltimore City, for the Democrats, was considerably less than had been predicted.
Buist: Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, who served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1978 to 1994, and ran for Governor twice, spoke to WYPR on the Floor of the Convention. She believes Maryland is not all that safe for Democrats.
Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey: Maryland has a reputation of being a very Democrat state; but if you remember in 1994 when I ran for Governor it was a 50-50 State, and I carried everything but Prince Georges, Montgomery, and Baltimore City.
Buist: She also finds merit in the proposition that Republican success in Maryland is dependent on keeping the turn-out in Baltimore City low.
Sauerbrey: It makes sense to me that in ‘88 we probably had a lower turnout in Baltimore City and that would make all the difference in the count.
Buist: Sauerbrey said she believes the Republican ranks in Maryland have grown as conservative Democrats have switched to being Republican. So, if Maryland Republicans want to end their 24 year long dry-spell, the keys would be to sign-up more Republican voters – and hope that fewer voters show up in strongly Democratic jurisdictions, like Baltimore City.
I’m Art Buist, reporting from Tampa, for 88-1 WYPR.
You can reach the WYPR Newsroom at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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