MDCANIt isn’t easy being a conservative in Maryland, and if last weekend’s MDCAN  Turning the Tides conference was any indication, it won’t get any easier in 2014.

The conference hosted by what was original called Maryland Conservative Action Network, and is now the Maryland Citizen Action Network, had been building steam since its first conference in 2011 with 100 plus attendees, growing to an estimated 350 last year.  But since that conference, the organization has lost two key players, and decided to change its name slightly, making some conservatives wonder whether or not MDCAN was trying to move away from its conservative roots.

This slight bit of turmoil showed this past weekend when the organization held its fourth conference with just over 100 registered attendees and maybe 75 actually in attendance.  But that shouldn’t really be that surprising as the agenda was more workshop oriented and lacking any star power whatsoever.  There wasn’t a politician in sight- which might be a good thing in many cases, but in an election year its inexplicable.

Admittedly, last year’s attendance would have been hard to top, but it is an election year and a great opportunity to get conservatives energized for the elections.  And politicians will show up for an audience of almost any size, especially when you’re Republican in Maryland.

Now there’s nothing wrong with nuts and bolts training, but it shouldn’t be the main feature of a conference that has built a reputation for discussing the hot political topics and was creating a buzz around the state.  All of that is lost now.

While there was some controversy during the youth panel when immigration came up, MDCAN really lost credibility when it allowed Scott Strzelczyk of the Western Maryland Initiative to explain why he thinks that part of the state should secede and that there should be 200 states, not 50.  No wonder the liberal media thinks conservatives are kooky.

Maybe next will be better, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

The same forces of moderation within the Maryland Republican Party that brought us a humiliating defeast in the governor’s race in November tried and failed to continue that legacy on Saturday with the defeat of Mary Kane in her attempt to become the next GOP state chairman.

Kane was soundly defeated by former state Senator Alex Mooney who narrowly lost his reelection bid last month after 12 years in office.

Mooney whose candidacy was pushed by the conservatives within the party took a commanding lead on the first ballot and after the three lowest vote total candiadates dropped out won handily on the second ballot. 

As a first time delegate I knew Kane was in trouble when half of my county (Montgomery) which is home to Kane went for Mooney. 

The election of Mooney is a big win for conservatives who have felt that it was time to move on from the Ehrlich machine and get a fresh start for the 2012 and 2014 elections.  For Kane it kept her streak of having never won an election intact and may signal the demise of moderates at the state level.

One person who didn’ take Kane’s loss graciously was her husband John the former state party chairman under Gov. Ehrlich who told the Washington Post that the decision was “unfortunate” and a “step back to an uncompromising and uninviting environment that clearly didn’t work in the past and won’t work in the future.”

This is as opposed to the squishy middle that is willing to compromise with the liberals that control the state and sacrifice principle just to get ahead politically.

Mooney won’t have much time to rest on his laurels as a conservative state Senator that rattled the cages of the liberals for years making him a top target in every election since 1998 as he will need to find good candidates to run for Congress and Senate for 2012 and plan for statewide elections in 2014.

While the Republicans made some real gains in the eastern and western portions of the state the hard core liberal areas  still remain a serious stumbling block in the GOP’s efforts to put some balance into the state legislature.  If Mooney can make some progress in these areas he will set the party up for a much needed resurgence and mollify the moderates who eye him with suspicion.