- The Washington Times - Friday, May 28, 2004

With its decision to exclude Comptroller William Donald Schaefer from the Democratic National Convention, the Maryland Democratic Party seems more determined than ever to continue on its path to self-destruction. “I would expect nothing less from the Democrats,” Mr. Schaefer said after learning of the snub. “You either have to sign in blood and support everything they say or you’re pushed aside.”

Given the fact that this statement comes from a politician who, over the past three decades, has been elected governor mayor of Baltimore and state comptroller by landslide margins, this should worry party leaders. Instead, Maryland Democrats seem more interested in avenging perceived slights from Mr. Schaefer. “In some ways, this really is a kind of a payback to someone who hasn’t been loyal to us in terms of past Democratic presidential candidates and has said absolutely nothing when it comes to supporting John Kerry,” said former state Delegate Rushern Baker, who serves as co-chairman of Mr. Kerry’s campaign in Prince George’s County.

Mr. Baker told Gazette.Net that Democrats would be foolish to reach out to someone who would make a mockery of the Maryland delegation at the national convention in Boston. In explaining why, Mr. Baker cited the fact that 12 years ago, Mr. Schaefer, (never a huge fan of Bill Clinton) delivered a last-minute endorsement of the doomed presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush. Note the irony here. Mr. Baker, who came in third in the 2002 Democratic Primary for Prince George’s County executive with less than 13 percent of the vote, does not believe that Mr. Schaefer, who won re-election as state comptroller two years ago with 68 percent of the vote, is worthy of going to Boston as a convention delegate.

In truth, Mr. Schaefer would be hard-pressed to make the Maryland Democratic Party look any more foolish than Mr. Baker and other, more prominent, Democratic leaders already have. The most recent fiasco surrounds the clashes over taxes between House Speaker Michael Busch, who tried to force Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich to accept a tax increase, and Senate President Mike Miller, who played a more constructive role by effectively siding with Mr. Ehrlich. Even state Democratic Party Chairman Isiah Leggett rightly places most of the blame for the failure to reach a budget compromise with the governor on Mr. Busch.

Mr. Schaefer says the Democrats need new blood, and should adopt a more conservative position on spending. Judging from the shabby treatment he’s receiving, that seems unlikely, because the left-leaning ideologues remain firmly in charge.

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