Repub­li­can group hosts Rea­gan Day Din­ner

Record Observer - - News - By MIKE DAVIS mdavis@kibay­times.com

GRASONVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee held its an­nual Rea­gan Day Din­ner and awards cer­e­mony on Wed­nes­day, May 18, at the Prospect Bay Coun­try Club, where elected of­fi­cials, rep­re­sen­ta­tives and com­mu­nity mem­bers gath­ered to hear about the state of the party.

Laura Knick­man, sec­re­tary of the county’s Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, was hon­ored for her work as the “ar­chi­tect” in es­tab­lish­ing the stan­dards and process for fill­ing a leg­isla­tive va­cancy, as hap­pened when then-County Com­mis­sioner Paul Com­fort was ap­pointed by the gover­nor to head the Mary­land Trans­porta­tion As­so­ci­a­tion. The com­mis­sion va­cancy was filled by Jack Wilson.

Knick­man re­ceived ci­ta­tions from the gover­nor as well as from the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly.

When the cur­rent RCC mem­bers were elected into of­fice, Kingston said there were ba­sic guide­lines in the state law for how to fill a va­cancy, but no writ­ten process was es­tab­lished. Knick­man told Kingston, “We’ve got to nail down a process that, God for­bid, we have an­other Pip­kin sit­u­a­tion and there is a vac­uum that it creates and we have to fill the va­cancy.”

Knick­man said the group, with the help of Diana Water­man at the state level, cre­ated a process that has be­come a model for other coun­ties. Knick­man said it is mainly a trans­parency process that in­volves in­ter­views, gath­er­ing back­ground and other in­for­ma­tion, as well as es­tab­lish­ing bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion with re­gional coun­ter­parts, so the pub­lic knows what is hap­pen­ing through­out the process.

“We wanted to do some­thing to re­store ... our lo­cal party when we first took of­fice,” Knick­man said. “In fact, it was one of the rea­sons I ran for Queen Anne’s County Cen­tral Com­mit­tee was to try to cre­ate some trans­parency, try to in­volve the pub­lic more in our process, in what we’re do­ing, so that the pub­lic could feel in­vested and feel like they were get­ting good results from the peo­ple they elected.

Mike John­son from Sudlersville won the 2015 Vol­un­teer of the Year award for his ded­i­ca­tion to the Repub­li­can Party. The RCC also pre­sented its Queen Anne’s County Repub­li­can of the Year award to pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Donald J. Trump. John Jag­ger, di­rec­tor for the Donald J. Trump cam­paign in Mary­land, ac­cepted the award on his be­half.

Del. Steve Arentz pre­sented a post­hu­mous ci­ta­tion from the Mary­land Gen­eral Assem­bly in recog­ni­tion of Ma­reen Water­man, who re­cently died, to Barry and Diana Water­man. Water­man was rec­og­nized for his “ded­i­ca­tion to his com­mu­nity” and “to his fel­low Repub­li­cans.”

“This guy meant a whole lot to me per­son­ally,” Arentz said. “He’s been a friend. He’s been just a great per­son. And the fam­ily has been a great group, and I’m hon­ored to present this.”

Af­ter the ci­ta­tion was pre­sented, County Com­mis­sioner Jim Moran said a few words about Ma­reen Water­man and the im­pact Water­man had on him run­ning for of­fice. Hav­ing met Water­man six years ago and cre­at­ing a re­la­tion­ship, Moran re­called Water­man telling him to run for of­fice be­cause he had no ties and that he used com­mon sense.

Moran said it was “a treat to talk is­sues with him” be­cause Water­man never got mad and was al­ways will­ing to talk.

Barry Water­man said when his fa­ther “reached the pearly gates” he was rec­og­nized for be­ing a gen­er­ous per­son. But more so than that, “he was prob­a­bly rec­og­nized as a staunch Repub­li­can.”

Barry Water­man said he had

seen nearly ev­ery politi­cian who had run for of­fice talk with his fa­ther and, de­spite agree­ing or dis­agree­ing on cer­tain po­si­tions, “he was al­ways will­ing to talk to ev­ery­body.”

Ni­colee Am­brose, Repub­li­can National Com­mit­tee National Com­mit­tee­woman for Mary­land who is cur­rently spear­head­ing Mary­land GOP’s Su­per Satur­day grass­roots pro­gram, be­gan her talk by speak­ing about the “doom and gloom” of the cur­rent political cli­mate.

Am­brose has also served as Young Repub­li­can Chair of the Mary­land Youth Team un­der then-Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, was chair­man of the Young Repub­li­can National Fed­er­a­tion and has spo­ken as a political an­a­lyst on Fox News Ra­dio, “Square Off” on NBC and on BBC news.

“Why is this such a piv­otal year for Amer­ica’s fu­ture? I think we have quickly and dra­mat­i­cally gone from hav­ing a con­cern of, what will the fu­ture be like for our grand­chil­dren to won­der­ing what Amer­ica will be like for us and our chil­dren,” Am­brose said.

Am­brose said Amer­i­cans be­lieve Hil­lary Clin­ton is un­trust­wor­thy. She went on to talk about scan­dals as­so­ci­ated with the Clin­ton fam­ily, such as Bill Clin­ton’s re­la­tion­ship with Mon­ica Lewin­sky, Hil­lary’s han­dling of the four Amer­i­cans killed in Beng­hazi in 2012, her con­tro­ver­sial use of a pri­vate email server, and “Par­don­gate,” where Am­brose said the Clin­ton’s took do­na­tions to par­don peo­ple at the end of Bill’s pres­i­dency.

“Many of us know this stuff, but how on earth could Amer­ica go back to the days of this and these scan­dals. We have to do every­thing we pos­si­bly can to get away from some­one of such poor char­ac­ter and hor­ri­ble judg­ment lead­ing this na­tion.”

Am­brose said Democrats have mas­tered the use of so­cial me­dia and the “emo­tional game of pol­i­tics,” and said the Repub­li­can Party needs to com­bat those emo­tions and en­cour­aged those in at­ten­dance to help con­quer that mis­sion. Am­brose said peo­ple need to be re­minded, “It’s a good thing to be a Repub­li­can.”

Am­brose fin­ished her talk en­cour­ag­ing Mary­land Repub­li­cans to turn the state red in the up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and to vote in Kathy Szeliga to the U.S. Se­nate, as well as elect­ing other Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors.

“We are fight­ing them in deep blue ter­ri­tory and mak­ing them be on the de­fen­sive ... So that’s kind of our trick in Mary­land,” Am­brose said. “Cede no ground, fight them ev­ery step of the way, and show peo­ple why our ideas are right.”

U.S. Se­nate can­di­date Kathy Szeliga, who has served in the Mary­land House of Del­e­gates since 2011 and was elected the Whip of the House Repub­li­can Cau­cus in 2013, was the se­cond speaker dur­ing the din­ner fundraiser.

Szeliga said she and her hus­band Mark started out with $5 in their pock­ets, work­ing min­i­mum wage jobs. Hav­ing traded a drill and $80 for their first car, Szeliga and her hus­band even­tu­ally pur­chased their first car.

“We knew that if we worked hard in this ex­cep­tional coun­try you can achieve some­thing, you can suc­ceed, be­cause Amer­ica is the land of op­por­tu­nity,” Szeliga said.

She worked as a maid, a wait­ress and as a dish­washer but took those skills and hard work and be­gan to move up in her ca­reer. She be­came the man­ager of the house­keep­ing depart­ment and even­tu­ally ran the reser­va­tions depart­ment at a re­sort, “just the way the Amer­i­can dream works: you work hard and take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Szeliga and her hus­band started a small gen­eral con­tract­ing busi­ness about 30 years ago. She said when she ar­rived in An­napo­lis she looked around one day and re­al­ized there weren’t enough small busi­ness own­ers, “peo­ple who know what it means to sign the front of the check, not just the back of the check.”

Now, she said, Repub­li­can busi­ness own­ers in An­napo­lis are help­ing make de­ci­sions and are sup­port­ing the gover­nor’s “great ideas and agenda and poli­cies” and that Mary­land is be­gin­ning to change.

With the en­cour­age­ment and help of friends and fam­ily, Szeliga said she de­cided Mary­land was worth fight­ing for and de­cided to run for U.S. Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski’s seat. To win the statewide elec­tion in Mary­land, Szeliga said, “We’re go­ing to need a lit­tle chaos.”

Then, she said, “You need a great can­di­date like me who’s the wife, mom, grand­mom, small busi­ness owner and a leader in An­napo­lis, some­body who knows how to get things done .... You need a Mary­lan­der. That’s how we’re go­ing to change this coun­try is by putting reg­u­lar peo­ple in there.”

Szeliga said vot­ers have the choice be­tween a ca­reer politi­cian in Chris Van Hollen, her op­po­nent run­ning for U.S. Se­nate, or some­one who has worked a va­ri­ety of jobs prior to be­com­ing a politi­cian. She said the def­i­ni­tion of in­san­ity is do­ing the same thing repet­i­tively and ex­pect­ing dif­fer­ent results. “What’s the def­i­ni­tion of in­san­ity in Wash­ing­ton?” Szeliga said. “Putting an­other ca­reer politi­cian in of­fice and ex­pect­ing dif­fer­ent results.”

Fol­low Mike Davis on Twit­ter: @mike_k­ibay­times.

PHO­TOS BY MIKE DAVIS

Mike John­son of Sudlersville re­ceives the 2015 Vol­un­teer of the Year award dur­ing the Queen Anne’s County Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee’s an­nual Rea­gan Day Din­ner on Wed­nes­day, May 18, at Prospect Bay Coun­try Club in Grasonville.

Repub­li­can Cen­tral Com­mit­tee Sec­re­tary Laura Knick­man re­ceives a ci­ta­tion from Gov. Larry Ho­gan and the District 36 State Del­e­ga­tion dur­ing the Rea­gan Day Din­ner at Prospect Bay Coun­try Club in Grasonville on Wed­nes­day, May 18. Knick­man re­ceived the hon­ors for her work cre­at­ing stan­dards for the cen­tral com­mit­tee fill­ing leg­isla­tive va­can­cies.

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