The outgoing Anne Arundel County Republican Central Committee will end its term this month as it began: with infighting among its ranks, as its sole black member has accused the chairwoman of racism.
Mary Sellman Jackson stunned her colleagues when she accused departing chairwoman Mary McNally Rose of racism for removing literature promoting Kunta Kinte Heritage Festival activities at a GOP voter registration booth at the County Fair in Crownsville last month.
Rose, a candidate for clerk of the Circuit Court, defended her actions, saying she acted in response to GOP volunteers who questioned whether Jackson's materials were appropriate at the Republican booth, which was intended to promote the party and its candidates.
This is not the first time Jackson, a former County Council candidate, has been at the center of controversy. Appointed by a 7-to-1 vote by other committee members to fill a vacancy in March 1988, she was removed from the seat two weeks later, after her election was challenged on procedural grounds. She was finally re-installed in 1989 after she sued the local and state party and an Annapolis Circuit Court judge ruled in her favor.
Other Republicans were shocked by Jackson's statements and said there has been no evidence of racism within the party.
"I do not belive and have never seen a pattern of racism on the part of Mary Rose," said Laura Green, a newly elected committee member from Edgewater.
District 30 Delegate candidate and former state Sen. Aris Allen, who is black, agreed, saying, "I think it's just the opposite. I think the party has sought to attract black members."
Jackson leveled her charge of racism at an orientation meeting last Tuesday for new committee members at GOP state headquarters in Annapolis.
She repeated her complaint yesterday, saying, "I've had to deal with Mary on that one issue of racism for two years. I'm tired of dealing with it."
The two women have not spoken in the past week, but Rose said yesterday that Jackson's charges came as a complete surprise to her.
"I don't feel like even dignifying her comment," Rose said. "I haven't done anything to Mary."
As chairwoman of the Maryland Federation of Republican Women's Minority Outreach, Jackson posted a festival schedule and literature at the GOP booth at the County Fair in Crownsville, only to find the next day that Rose ordered it removed and a note explaining why.
"That's why I was so upset," Jackson said. "You don't leave a personal note in public."
She told committee members last week that the festival literature always had appeared unchallenged in past years. She also claimed that the literature was not replaced last month after she won approval from a majority of the committee.
Rose said yesterday that the literature was not at the GOP booth last year, which she said she managed throughout the County Fair. She also said that leaving a note "might have been insensitive," but that Jackson's literature was replaced after the committee approved it.
Jackson, who said she never returned to the booth after seeing the note, said yesterday that her dispute with Rose dates to the GOP party convention more than two years ago. Jackson had supported U.S. Representative Helen Bentley, R-2nd, over Rose for national Republican committeewoman from Maryland.
"I couldn't deal with voting for her at that time because she was racist then and I'm still fighting to keep them from shutting blacks out," Jackson said yesterday. She would not elaborate on her earlier complaint against Rose.
"That's the first time I heard that one," said Rose, who was appointed committee chairwoman in February, when the position was vacated by James C.