The Democratic Party of Maryland has had one roller-coaster ride of an election season, beginning with the insurgency campaigns of the progressive movement during the Primary elections, and ending with the defeat of the party’s establishment leader in a contentious party election.
But it appears now that the promises made by some won’t be fulfilled, as one so-called progressive party leader is reportedly set to forego their once coveted position as Chairman of the local party affiliate for a more lucrative seat at the state table – despite cutting the throat of one local activist to land the gig in the first place.
Confused yet? Well let me break it down for you…
Following the June 26th Democratic Primary elections in Maryland, there was a wave of newly elected party loyalists from the state senate down to the unpaid positions of the Democratic State Central Committee; and it was that progressive insurgence that wound up shaking up the status quo enough that led to one “political operative” using it to his advantage in an effort to make good on the promises of a progressive platform that he helped craft. Or so he said at the time.
Benjamin Smith, a young Kentucky native who recently moved to Baltimore roughly five years ago to attend the University of Maryland School of Law, saw an opportunity to break into the city’s democratic political circles by crafting a progressive agenda to revitalize the once lackluster central committee. After forming his own political consulting firm with a few would be clients and friends, he set out to carve his name into the memories of voters across the city – especially of those who reside in the 40th district.
The former Student Government President of UMD Law School saw his hard work pay off earlier this year, as he won a seat on that very district’s democratic state central committee. But he wasn’t done yet. Smith formed a loose group of allies to run as a ticket for the central committee’s election of officers, with him at the top, as a candidate for chairman of Baltimore City’s Democratic State Central Committee. And while Smith laid out an aggressive agenda and vision for the future in a 9-point agenda he entitled, “Rebuilding Trust”, it was his backdoor politics that wound being the last memory of that election.
And while members of the majority African American body, who represent a city where African Americans make up close to 70% of the overall electorate, were a little skeptical of having a white guy who had recently moved to the city lead them over the next four years; through a little political wheeling and dealing, and a well-articulated speech to the body about why his plan and vision was the best alternative for the members looking to choose their new leader, Ben made many of them believe in his sincere passion to move the central committee into the 21st century – after being stuck in the past for decades now.
Yet, it didn’t take long before the trust in his vision was broken, when he was caught voting against his right-hand woman in the whole central committee coupe, Phylicia Porter – who was running with Smith to become the central committee’s 2nd vice-chairman. However, Smith never articulated to Porter that he had secretly made a deal with newly elected 45th district state senator Cory McCray to vote for his choice for 2nd vice-chair, Antonio Glover.
Porter, a well-respected black woman who is one of Baltimore’s most inspiring up and coming leaders in democratic politics, was Smith’s main supporter, articulating to doubters why they should in fact vote for him as their next chairman. But it seems as if Smith didn’t appreciate Porter’s loyalty, and it was his vote against Porter that wound up costing her the 2nd vice-chairmanship during the election. (Read the full story about this election and the vote count here)
However, she moved on and the central committee coalesced around Smith’s plan to “Rebuild Trust” and his vision on moving the city’s Democratic Party forward over the next four years. However, it appears now that less than five months since taking the reigns as the city’s democratic leader, that Ben is abandoning his post for a lucrative position as Executive Director of the state’s Democratic Party – after he helped whip the votes for the recently elected Chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party, Maya Rockeymoore-Cummings.
Reports have surfaced that Rockeymoore-Cummings, who recently defeated incumbent party chairwoman Kathleen Matthews and was warned by several black women about trusting Smith due to his actions that caused Porter to lose her seat just four months ago, has offered the ED position to Smith. Multiple central committee members called DMVDaily to express their dismay about Smith’s decision that reportedly believes that he plans to abandon his democratic central committee colleagues later this week by resigning his post during the group’s regularly scheduled executive board meeting of elected officers.
His resignation will result in a vacancy, that according to the central committee by-laws, would call for an immediate special election for the position, to be held at the next regularly scheduled membership meeting – which is held on the third Wednesday of every month. This could set off a domino effect of elections, if one of the vice-chairmen or other elected officers decide to run for the open chairmanship, and wins; thereby leaving their position vacant and needing an election for that seat as well.
However staffers at the state party are more concerned about the possibility of Smith, who doesn’t have a real understanding of the party leadership and structure based on him only recently becoming a state resident and having only a few months in as a central committee member, becoming their new boss; especially given Rockeymoore-Cummings’ recent articulation of the party having a structural problem that she wanted to fix in her vision to “Go Deep”.
“Bringing in Ben Smith in my opinion isn’t going deep at all,” said one party staffer. “In fact, that seems more like you are swimming in the shallow end of the pool, throwing a check down pass that doesn’t get you anymore than one or two yards when you need fifty to score the winning touchdown? This may not be the wisest move by Maya coming out of the gate, but it’s her party to sink or swim with.”
It’s being said that Smith’s first day would be on January 8th, the same day the state party is set to host their annual pre-legislative session luncheon. And while neither Rockeymoore-Cummings or Smith have a clue as to the inner workings of this event, it’s been said that the current party Executive Director, Stephanie Potter, will hold Ben’s hand and walk him through this vitally important event.
Some members told us that they would have thought Eva Lewis, the current political director for the state party, would have taken over as ED with Potter no longer being around, especially given the fact that Rockeymoore-Cummings secured her seat on the backs of black women within the state central committee in localities such as Baltimore City, Prince George’s and Howard counties.
“I know I would have chosen a black woman to help run the party’s day-to-day operations if I was her, but even if I didn’t, I certainly wouldn’t have chosen someone who doesn’t appear to have left a good taste in many black women’s mouths,” due to his manipulative backstabbing of one of their own earlier this year.
**I guess we will see how it all shakes out, but DMVDaily News will give you all the latest news and information regarding this move, and the possible special election(s), as they are made available.