Being a Republican is an on-going activity
By Neil Currie
From a handful of GOP activists in western Montgomery County, Republicans of Legislative District 15 has grown into an organization with more than a hundred dues-paying members, a registered PAC and a weekly communications outreach that will soon reach 8,000 homes. We also maintain a website (www.mdgopld15.org.) as well as Facebook and Twitter postings.
Although we had long staffed Early Voting and Election Day polls, we now do so with banners announcing our presence, along with GOP branded souvenirs and information to take home. We also show up at parades, street festivals and other community events. Thus, people are learning that there are two parties in LD-15, not just one.
A major milestone in our growth was the embrace of a simple concept we titled The Power of One. Our core group of a dozen activists agreed that over three months we would each recruit one other person to become a member. We had membership cards printed and established annual dues of $10.00.
Once that initial goal was met, our now two dozen members each sought one more recruit over the next three months. By the end of the year we had over a hundred dues-paying members and thus the staffing to do more things more often.
To guide our efforts we wrote a set of bylaws which were adopted by a vote of our members. We then established several standing committees ranging from Membership to Youth Outreach, Candidate Recruitment and Communications. Ad hoc committees were set up to run a series of events including:
Lincoln Day – This is our principal business meeting of the year where members elect an 11 person Executive Committee, which in turn is guided by a strategic plan detailing our objectives with benchmarks to gauge our progress.
The Preakness & Politics – a major fundraiser saluting Maryland’s premier sporting event. At $100 per person this year it grossed more than $11,000.
Summer Picnic – at minimal cost ($10.00) for maximum fun it is based on the premise that the party that plays together stays together.
Election Echoes – We will gather one year to the day before the 2018 election to launch our get-out-the-vote efforts. In election years we meet shortly after
Election Day to review the results and thank our volunteers.
In addition to these quarterly membership meetings, we have begun holding more frequent gatherings of Republicans from a half dozen precincts at a time to outline plans, introduce candidates and – most importantly – seek ideas. One such recent event in Potomac attracted a dozen attendees from whom we gained several new members and a bounty of ideas on how to improve communication with our base.
Beyond membership events, we maintain an active and growing outreach to labor unions, ethnic communities, Independents and Disaffected Democrats (of which there are many.) These events include:
GOP Movie Night – a bi-monthly night out for supper and a reduced-price movie, typically geared to millenials but open to anyone.
First Friday – Presently scheduled at “Happy Hour” (that may change) anyone is welcome. One such gathering attracted an overflow crowd to hear Virginia Republican legislator and author (Trust Betrayed) Scott Taylor.
We also have a vibrant Youth Outreach that has seen Republican clubs established in LD-15 high schools, which we support with workshops and trips to Annapolis and Capitol Hill, along with the opportunity to receive a Hanerfeld Scholarship.
Established in memory of Paul Hanerfeld, founding chairman of Republicans of Maryland Legislative District 15, the scholarship fund enables high school and college-age students to attend training programs at the Leadership Institute at little or no cost and thus learn skills to help advance the party.
Our members also monitor developments in the County Council, testify at hearings, write Letters to the Editor and serve on panels such as the Public Election Fund where startled Democrats first heard the word, “No.”
Additionally, we maintain close and mutually supportive relationships with the women’s Republican organizations located in LD-15.
But, the secret ingredient to our success: chocolate chip cookies at all meetings.