Diane Evans and the Republican Party

"What in heaven's name has gotten into Diane?"

"What's Evans' problem, anyway?"

These are the sorts of mutterings we hear about Anne Arundel county council member Diane Evans' decision to challenge County Executive John Gary in the Republican primary.

Usually the words are whispered, primarily by Republicans, often with a shaking of the head and a sad look. As if discussing news of a cousin's degenerative disease.

We don't understand.

Evans' decision to take on Gary is bold, to say the least. In a matter of months, she could find herself going from chair of the council to looking for work. But it is not reckless and, as far as we can tell, is being done for the right purposes. And, one might argue, for the good of the Republican Party.

What good is it for the Republicans to have one of their own as county executive if he regularly alienates people with his style? And how is it helpful to the party if people must read regularly about his nepotism, fund-raising excesses and ethical lapses?

Evans says she wants to show that Republicans can be environmental advocates and socially conscious in addition to fiscal conservatives. What's wrong with that? Sounds to us like a surefire way to broaden the reach of the party.

On several scores, Evans' candidacy could be what the Republicans need. Keep in mind that the gender gap in the last presidential election hovered around 25 percent. In other words, the party in Anne Arundel County and in many places has lost its loyal women voters in droves.

Evans will attract just the sort of moderate and suburban women that the Republican Party has lost. Even if Evans loses, those voters will be the on Republican rolls once more.

Then again, she may not lose. If she has calculated correctly, there are many voters who, heading into the new century, are looking for more in public servants than they see in Gary. The question for Evans is: Are these the voters who will be taking Republican ballots?

Whether Diane Evans wins or loses, the Republican Party will be better for her effort.

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VolumeVI Number 2
January 15-21, 1998
New Bay Times

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