Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Changes at the top...

Howard County Republicans will be taking their cues from a new chairman.

Howard County Republicans are entering this unusually active election year with a new leader, after outspoken party Chairman Howard M. Rensin declined to seek a new term.

Rensin said his commercial investment business is booming, taking too much time for him to continue running the party in a year when lively contests are brewing on every level of government.

...Brian Harlin, formerly vice chairman of the party central committee, is the county GOP's new leader. He said the post fits well with what he does for a living.

"Handling campaigns and winning elections is what I do," said Harlin, who owns an Elkridge printing business that specializes in Republican campaign signs and materials. As for Rensin's departure, Harlin said, "I don't see that anyone had a huge problem with Howard."
Sun reporter Larry Carson uses the story to discuss some sharp rhetoric from Rensin following Chris Merdon's ascendancy to the position of County Council Chairman. I criticized Rensin for overly inflammatory statements, and apparently his remarks even drew criticism, albeit off-the-record, from party insiders.

Carson, through his coverage of this story, implies in a roundabout way that Rensin leaving the chairmanship may have had something to do with these comments, an implication that is widely dismissed by GOP insiders and Rensin himself.
"I was told that if I wanted to run for re-election, I would have no opponent," he said, adding that "the job of the party chairman is to rally the base and turn out the base."
Although Republicans would probably like to claim that Carson is demonstrating the Sun's typical liberal bias by rehashing Rensin's past comments, not only are such claims wrong, they're growing increasingly pathetic. Carson, like all reporters, is looking for something juicy to write about. Were a Democrat in a similar position, the story would likely have been written the same way.

Meanwhile, in getting the Democrats' response to this leadership change, Carson finds someone who's out to win Hayduke's support.

Tony McGuffin, vice chair of the county's Democrats, said he welcomes Harlin as GOP chairman.

"We know Brian Harlin," he said, referring to Harlin's run for County Council in 2002 against Rakes. "Hopefully, there will be more positive rhetoric. On the local level, we don't need to act like [they do] on Capitol Hill."

Howard County Republicans, he said, "are our friends and neighbors."

Keeping local politics focused on local issues (and not national identity politics) is one of the main focuses of this blog. McGuffin, presumably the Democrats as a whole, and even Chris Merdon seem to be talking the talk, for now at least. But it's only January, campaigns have hardly begun, and riling up voters is still just a glimmer in the eye of party hacks throughout the county.

Politics can only stay nice for so long.


hocoblog said...


This is a non-story.

I know these guys. Rensin isn't taking any heat for his comments from the HO CO GOP. I thought his comments were "his" comments.

It is a big tent and no one is going to critize some one for speaking his mind. They might not agree with him, but he is entitled to his opinion.

I thought his comments were too sharp as well, and contridicted Merdon's position on keeping the rhetoric low. Told Rensin that myself.

Rensin IS too busy in his professional life (after all the Central Committee is a volunteer position) to head up the party in an election year. Harlin is ideal. Has connections with the other central committe, and his business is politics.

As for your sentiments "Politics can only stay nice for so long." I agree. When someone throws the first punch (my bet is on Ulman) then the match will get ugly.

jim adams said...

Brian is a good man, who knows the nuts and bolts of local politics. This should make 2008 very interesting.