Herald-Mail newspaper issues strong rebuke against Washington County Republican Central Committee

By Ryan Miner 

The Herald-Mail today wasted no time blasting the Washington County Republican Central Committee for choosing yet another commissioner candidate with close ties to Terry Baker.

In an editorial released today (Sunday, March 6), The Herald-Mail called into question Wayne Keefer’s, the Washington County Republican Central Committee’s choice to replace Woody Spong on the Board of County Commissioners, obvious relationship and connection with Commissioners President Terry Baker.

Fairly or unfairly, the Republican Central Committee picked yet another close ally to Terry Baker; Keefer is Baker’s congressional campaign treasurer. Spong also took on the same role in Baker’s previous commissioner runs. Keefer’s connection alone certainly doesn’t mean he won’t be a fantastic commissioner. In fact, I have heard nothing but positive remarks since the Republican Central Committee announced Keefer’s selection.

Incidentally, Mr. Keefer has even agreed to meet me for lunch. Call it what you want, but I call it progress. Spong refused to meet with almost any media, except for an obscure blogger who now lives in Baltimore. Spong’s reluctance to discuss policy caused deep consternation among members of the Washington County community. I trust Wayne Keefer will not make Spong’s mistake.

Keefer may have been the most qualified candidate. His interview with the committee may have been the deciding factor. But there is still a Baker connection, and if Keefer becomes a rubber stamp to Baker, the community will have just cause to express outrage.

Baker’s record in Washington County, despite his election successes, is a disaster. He’s roundly despised by the business community. He took the side of two corrupt individuals (Pennington and Heller) over the citizens of Fairplay. Even as a former classroom teacher in Washington County Public Schools, Baker consistently votes against fiscally responsible education projects. Baker cannot process nuance and many of his votes have kept Washington County from achieving any real progress – educationally, institutionally and worse, Baker uses “fiscal restraint” as an excuse for casting some of his “no” votes; it’s more like a dogmatic and perverted ideology.

Baker is no boon for Washington County, and The Herald-Mail recognizes Baker’s leadership is nonexistent. Baker’s best friend, Woody Spong, was quickly co-opted into Baker’s cabal soon after he took his oath of office. Let’s hope Wayne Keefer won’t follow in Spong’s footsteps.

I have high hopes for Wayne Keefer. My single biggest hope is that he independently analyzes every vote and avoids joining Terry Baker in moving Washington County back another ten years. Baker is now looking to carry his anti-intellectual and anti-progress agenda to Congress. Just what we need: more obstruction and less thinking. No thanks.

Make Washington County proud, Mr. Keefer. All eyes are on you.

Here are some excerpts from the Herald-Mail’s editorial from today:

Spong’s appointment, as we all know, did not work out. He was his own worst enemy, saying or sharing locker-room quips. During his brief time on the board, he was little more than a second vote for Baker’s positions.

So, what did the central committee do when given a second chance? Exactly the same thing it did the first time around; it sent only one nominee to the governor. And that nominee happens to be treasurer of Baker’s campaign for a 6th Congressional District seat.

The nominee, Wayne Keefer, might make a fine commissioner. He impresses as smart and articulate. But his ties to Baker make us doubt his independence. It is somewhat unfair to Keefer, but if he votes overwhelmingly with Baker when he takes his seat, people will wonder.