Let the reader decide...
Mike McKay is running for Delegate for MD District 1C. His opposition in the GOP primary is Ray Givens (no relation). Of course I am extremely interested in where GOP candidates stand on the TEA Party, more so since the national Republican Party publicly declared war on us. I have made it my mission to expose those who would distance themselves from us in solidarity with the establishment power brokers in our Party.
I tried to contact McKay by telephone as soon as he began to campaign. I called several times and left phone messages asking him to please return my call. I got no response. It was around this time that someone approached me to tell me that McKay had been a speaker at a union event in Hagerstown where he said, when asked about his relationship with the TEA Party,
" I used to belong to the TEA Party, but I distanced myself from them about 3 years ago."This peaked my interest and I wanted to hear directly from him the meaning of this statement. I called a few more times before I realized that he was not going to return my call.
I attended a meeting of the Allegany TEA Party Conservative Caucus, hoping that I would get a chance to talk to their members about the group's relationship with McKay. It wasn't until after the meeting when several of us went to lunch did I hear about what may have occurred three years ago. I must tell you that I was not in an "interview setting." I was seated at a long table at the end seat, so I was basically only able to listen to the conversation around the table. I heard feelings of betrayal. Those at the table believed that they were used to get McKay elected as County Commissioner and then dropped like a bad habit just after the election. As I said, it was not an interview. There was no one on the record. It did make me all the more determined to find out his side of the story...if he would just return my calls.
As the events organizer for the Hagerstown TEA Party, I invited him along with all Republican and Democratic candidates for MD Districts 1C, 2A, and 2B to a TEA Party-sponsored candidate's forum. HTP candidate forums are non-partisan and all candidates are invited to participate and are treated with respect. This was proven true during the last election cycle. I sent an email and I sent a formal invitation by U.S. mail. I did not expect to hear from him since all attempts to contact him had been ignored. Just in case he would hesitate due to my last name (the same as his opponent), I made it clear that there is no family relation. He was the first to reply! He said that he had to attend an earlier County Council meeting that evening, but that as soon as it was over he would head towards Hagerstown, and he would be arriving late. We had a little rather hurried back and forth about a statement that he wanted to be read to those in attendance. It sounded like a campaign statement, not an explanation for his tardiness. I told him that it wouldn't be fair to the other candidates to allow a statement without his presence and without Q&A. We finally agreed that it would be just a statement on his tardiness. However, when I finally received the statement it was more than what we agreed on...and he did not show up. Again, a missed attempt to hear his side of his statement to the union crowd and to ask him if he was following the lead of the national Party and distancing himself.
My last attempt to speak directly with Mike McKay was at the Allegany TEA Party and Conservative Caucus candidate's forum. (You can see the video of this event with both candidates responding to Q&A at http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Uqevx95T4Mw.) After the forum I found an opportunity to approach him and speak to him privately. He knew who I was before introducing myself...so he did know that I was the one that he had seemingly been avoiding for months. Finally, I asked him:
"I am told that you made a statement before a union crowd that you had distanced yourself from the TEA Party about 3 years ago. Is this in solidarity with the national GOP's "war on the TEA Party"?
He answered without hesitation, giving an emphatic "No." I pushed. I told him that some in the group feel that he used them to get elected and then quit. He again, without hesitation, explained that the group was under different leadership at the time. He felt that the leadership back then had become a little "unruly." He said that their president was making public accusations about illegal behavior by public servants from the sheriff's department on up. He felt that it was unfounded and irresponsible. What could I say? I too may have distanced myself under those circumstances. I told him that I would attempt to verify this claim. He assured me that he still wholly espoused TEA Party principles.
Since then the Allegany group has endorsed Ray Givens as their candidate for Delegate for District 1C. I spoke to two people currently in leadership: one was around when McKay was a member and the other was not. Both believed that there was some truth to his explanation of why he quit the TEA Party three years ago. My nagging concern...
He didn't tell the union crowd why he distanced himself from the TEA Party, or that he still espoused TEA Party principles....and he avoided me for as long as he could.
I have tried to be fair and give the reader something to think about before voting. I too have since decided to endorse Ray Givens. Why? There has never been a doubt about his friendship with the TEA Party. I know first hand that he has attended most of our events since its inception in 2009. If I have a question I can call him and he will answer or get back to me as soon as possible. I don't know, maybe he has more time than McKay for phone calls. After all, Ray Givens is retired while Mike McKay owns and manages 6 dry cleaning stores and I believe he has 8 children at home. Fact is one responds the other does not.
Ray Givens has been a tireless advocate for the Second Amendment, making the long trip to Annapolis and back many times over the years. He made that trip from Hancock sometimes twice a week during the SB281 debate. He is committed to Conservative causes. He is available to the public. To me it just makes sense. I support Ray Givens for Delegate for MD District 1C.