A list of candidates jointly endorsed by the Route 40 and North Harford Republican Clubs, controversial for both its content and construction, has caused a rift among club leaders and members, with some claiming club bylaws have been violated and that the endorsements are invalid or should be retracted.
The list was officially released to the media on August 16, but cards naming the endorsements were distributed at the Harford County Farm Fair several weeks ago, leading to clashes between candidates who learned they weren’t endorsed and those who had a hand in the endorsing.
Those familiar with how the list was created claim the endorsements were made during an unauthorized special meeting of the Route 40 Republican Club’s Executive Board, that bylaws were violated because challengers were endorsed over incumbents seeking reelection, and that the general membership of the club was not, but was required to have been, involved in the process.
“These endorsements are in direct conflict with the Route 40 Republican Club Constitution and By-laws,” said Route 40 Republican Club member Fred Mullis.
Mullis said the endorsements were made at a meeting called by Del. Rick Impallaria, “which is also in direct conflict with the by-laws since he is not an elected officer of the club.”
According to Mullis, during a meeting in July, the general membership of the Route 40 Republican Club voted by majority for Carol MacCubbin, the vice president, to serve as the interim president until the club could elect a president to complete the term vacated by the death of the club president Stephen Wright.
According to the club’s bylaws, Article V; Section 3 states that a special meeting of the Board must be called by the president or upon the request of three board members, but Mullis said it was Impallaria, not MacCubbin, who called and presided over the special Board meeting to make the club’s endorsements.
Mullis claims that during this meeting MacCubbin was not only told she would stay as vice president and that Impallaria would run the meetings, but that it was also decided the Board would suspend the bylaws, which Mullis asserts is “not possible.”
The Board then proceeded to make its endorsements, without notifying the president of the North Harford Republican Club and without sending it to a vote by the general membership of either club, Mullis said.
Furthermore, the endorsements seem to plainly violate the club bylaws specifically prohibiting the endorsement of a challenger in a race against an incumbent Republican.
The Route 40 and North Harford Republican Clubs have endorsed Rob Wagner over incumbent Harford County Executive David Craig and Dave Tritt and Jason Gallion over sitting District 35A Dels. Wayne Norman and Donna Stifler.
The endorsements for Republican Central Committee named eight individuals for the 12 positions. Mullis’ wife, Paula, was not endorsed despite being an active club member.
Here is the relevant portion of the Route 40 Republican Club bylaws regarding endorsements:
Article XIII: Candidate Endorsements
Section 1: CANDIDATE ENDORSEMENTS. The Club (as an organization) may endorse candidates within the following pre-requisites:
1. The organization shall not endorse any candidate contesting in a Republican primary; e.g. a republican candidate who is running against a republican incumbent. The organization may endorse a republican in a republican primary when the seat is an “open seat” (e.g. a seat in which there is no Republican incumbent).
2. Endorsements may be made each election cycle. The Club may make endorsements for Federal, State and local elected, appointed, or administrative positions. Unless specifically stated otherwise in the endorsement, each endorsement is made for the particular election or appointment referred to in the endorsement.
3. Endorsements of the club, to be effective, official and prior to being made public, shall be confirmed by a majority of the Board and two-thirds of the membership present at a regular meeting or a special meeting called for the purpose of approving such endorsements. These rules shall apply to the endorsements of Republican incumbents.
4. Candidate endorsements shall be made public by the President of the Club, or a representative(s) of the club, approved by a majority vote of the Board.
Mullis believes the violation of these bylaws is obvious and severe enough that the endorsements should be retracted, if not outright invalidated. He said his first step in that process is to bring the matter before general membership of both clubs. Beyond that, he’s looking into whether it would be appropriate to file a complaint with the Board of Elections.
The cards and press release state that the endorsements are jointly made by the Route 40 and North Harford Republican Clubs. All releases have come from the Route 40 Republican Club and it is not clear when or how the North Harford Republican Club joined in making the endorsements.
Gregory Johnson, president of the North Harford Republican Club, would not address the accusations of bylaw violations directly and, instead, issued this statement:
“The North Harford Republican Club is about educating citizens and promoting conservatism in the northern end of the county. Anyone who attends our meetings will see that the group is positive and fair, and is comprised of regular folks whose only interest is to become well-informed to effect positive change in their community. We are backing leaders who will get this county, state, and country back on the right track–one in line with the intentions of the Founders of our Republic.”
Impallaria and MacCubbin did not respond to requests to discuss or comment on this situation.
Here is the full set of Route 40 Republican Club bylaws: