The Prince George's County Republican Central Committee, upset with what it perceived as criticisms of the party in the recent congressional elections by Republican County Executive Lawrence Hogan, has decided to demand an explanation from Hogan.
Ten members of the central committee met in private recently to evaluate the recent 5th District race and, after attacking Hogan for failing to help the party and for disparaging its unsuccessful congresstional nominee Audrey Scott, they voted 7-3 to write a letter to Hogan.
The letter, which has not been sent yet because some members believe it will embarrass the party and its only officeholder in the county, has been drafted to ask Hogan to clarify several post-election comments about the party and Scott that were reported in a weekly county newspaper.
The newspaper article quoted Hogan saying that the Republicans demonstrated a "death wish" by voting for Scott instead of his son in the party primary for the congressional seat. In the article Hogan also said he thought Scott's 12-point margin of loss to Hoyer was extremely poor, which some central committee members took to be a criticism of the party organization.
The committee voted to ask Hogan to explain or clarify his remarks to the local, state and national party organizations. According to committee member Margaret Beazley, who suggested the letter, "You can't always believe what you read in the paper but [those remarks] were inappropriate if that's what he said. His comments should have been more supportive of our party."
The committee vote two weeks ago is only the most recent example of the divisions in the tiny Prince George's Republican Party that have developed from the special congressional election and the first contested Republican primary in a nearly a decade.
During the primary race, Bowie Mayor Scott and another longtime Hogan ally John B. Burcham charged that Hogan was using political muscle to clear the field for his son, Lawrence Hogan Jr.
Scott stayed in the race, charging Hogan with "machine" tactics, and Burcham broke ranks with Hogan and joined Scott. Hogan has apparently not forgiven Burcham for his actions and recently decided against reappointing him to the well-paid and powerfully county planning board.
After the primary, Hogan stayed away from the race, issuing a lukewarm endorsement of Scott only in the final days of the general election, all the while asserting that only his son had a chance of beating Hoyer.
It was this sort of attitude that apparently upset the central committee, an 18-member group that until Hogan was elected to the county's top post in 1978 had little to do. Hogan is the only Republican to win an election in Prince George's in seven years.
According to Central Committee Chairman Barbara Anderson several members felt that Hogan, as the county's only Republican officeholder and the state's Republican national committeeman, "didn't do enough" for Scott. "The feeling was that because he's a national committeeman he should be a little more of a cheerleader," said Anderson.
Hogan could not be reached for comment yesterday on the letter or the central committee vote but according to associates the committee's action is unlikely to disturb Hogan, who has never relied on the party organization to get elected. "There are always hard feelings after an election," said Hogan associate Gerard Holcomb. Said another Republican, "They're a lot of little old ladies in tennis shoes. They have as much power as a weak 60-year-old."