Sunday, February 12, 2012

FLASHBACK: This Time Last Year Senate Democrats Spoke Up (Kind Of)


Maryland Juice has a flashback to a conversation that Senate Democrats began one year ago. The Baltimore Sun reported:
FEBRUARY 8, 2011

Senate Democrats showing signs of fracture

In a rare showing of discord among the Senate Democrats, almost half recently signed a letter seeking a more unified approach to policy discussions and leadership selection....

Some Democratic lawmakers also have expressed misgivings about the Senate majority leader, appointed by Miller, as well as confusion over how their caucus is run. And some appear to be preparing for Miller's eventual departure as their leader.

"We believe a more active and formal Senate Democratic Caucus would promote cooperation and member engagement," the letter from 16 of the Senate's 35 Democrats says.

They wrote that they want to establish clear procedures for electing caucus leaders, better communicate about legislation and hold regular caucus meetings, stating that the House Democrats and Republicans in both chambers "meet regularly to discuss major policy issues and strategies."

"Letters distributed in a petition type of approach can cause immediate divisiveness in the Caucus and often achieve the opposite result of the intended purpose," Miller wrote.... 
"Mike's not going to be here forever,' said Sen. Paul Pinsky, a Prince George's County Democrat. "And we need to have a clear understanding of what happens next. Right now the rules are so loosey-goosey -- it doesn't benefit anyone. We'd have better buy-in if everyone adopts some rules."

Sen. Brian Frosh of Montgomery County, declined to comment on why he signed the letter, saying it is "self-explanatory."

One of the chief complaints appears to be that there is no clear procedure for how the majority party chooses a Senate president and other leaders.

Senate Democrats aren't alone. The 12-member Republican caucus also has endured strife this year. Sen. Allan Kittleman of Howard County resigned his post as minority leader after his support for civil unions led to discomfort among fellow Senate Republicans.

Sen. Nancy Jacobs of Harford and Cecil counties eked out a narrow win to succeed Kittleman. Her caucus voted for her over Frederick County Sen. David Brinkley.

Maryland Juice Thought Experiment: What if the GOP crossed-over to vote for a new Democrat for Senate President? It seems like this would be legal since there are no real rules governing Senate President elections -- ie: any motion goes. There is precedent for this in Massachusetts. Surely some GOP libertarians could find enough common cause with progressives on civil liberties issues to hold their nose and vote for a liberal Senate President. If only they'd have the courage and foresight to avoid the bigots in their party. But if they're content to remain a regional party, I suppose they can keep on going under their current stupid and reactive strategy.

Unchain your mind - Embrace DISRUPTION as a strategy for change.

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