(This post has been entirely updated here.)
I’ve had enough people ask me who I think is going to be chair that I’ve decided to lay odds on what I think would happen. (Odds are for amusement only, no wagering please.)
Here is the race as I see it and why. I’ll update this in a week or so before the race; by then we should have a pretty good idea of the field. (Now updated to reflect two withdrawals – Andrew Langer and Eric Wargotz.)
- Mary Kane (4-1): The early favorite based on name recognition and the number of Ehrlich loyalists still in the state party. But this probably won’t be a two- or three-horse race in the beginning, and the question is just how much support she can muster beyond this core constituency. Will she have enough in the tank if the race turns out to be a marathon? And are party regulars ready to give the Republicans back to the Kane family? However, her odds improved once Eric Wargotz withdrew since they seemed to me to be drawing from the same voter bloc.
- Alex Mooney (10-1): The longer he waits to decide whether to get into the race (as of 12-2 he’s still oscillating between Chair and 1st Vice-Chair), the less chance he has of winning it. He has two strikes against him: a perception that he’s simply doing this to keep his 2012-2014 options open and the similar geographical disparity which also would have hurt Eric Wargotz. However, his odds can vastly improve if he decides to get in and pledges to use the position as a conservative bully pulpit – I think the withdrawal of Wargotz will push him into the Chair race, thus his odds got much better. And with the withdrawals of the other ‘outstate’ candidates he can now play the ‘us vs. them’ angle.
- William Campbell (12-1): Probably the most low-key among those in the field, Campbell could be the compromise candidate the party turns to in an otherwise deadlocked race. While he has run for statewide office, he’s a political outsider who may get the nod based on the perception he’s not taking the position to climb a career political ladder. In terms of fiscal expertise, though, Campbell is hard to top.
- Sam Hale (12-1): Hale represents the Brian Murphy wing of the party, and will likely have a lot of support among the most conservative in the party. Yet the questions which will nag him will be those of his young age and his fundraising ability, particularly since he’s likely the most unknown quantity among the contenders. They may not wish to take a flyer on this unproven rookie unless he can press the flesh and impress. He’s unafraid of questions, though, and that could help.
- Carmen Amedori (15-1): Another candidate who wouldn’t win on the first ballot, but could emerge as a compromise choice. However, she has to overcome the perception of flakiness based on her behavior during the 2010 campaign – her explanation made sense to some but left other supporters of both Brian Murphy and Bob Ehrlich fuming. She will need to mend fences quickly to have a chance.
- Mike Esteve (20-1): He’s already in charge of a state operation, but the Maryland College Republicans are a far cry from their parent organization. Like Sam Hale, there’s going to be the question of youth used against him, except that Mike is even younger. While the group as a whole needs to get younger, I can’t see how he succeeds – on the other hand, he only needs to convince about 150 people.
- The field (75-1): Since nominations can be made from the floor (if a 2/3 majority chooses to do so) any number of names could surface at the convention, including past chairmen or other GOP luminaries. Highly unlikely but possible nonetheless.
On Sunday I submitted a list of questions to the contenders whom I know of; as of the time I wrote this last night no one had replied. (As of 12-3 Sam Hale is the lone reply.) Obviously I’m taking a dim view of those who won’t answer simple but direct questions about how they’ll change the party.
Original odds 11/30/10: Kane 5-1, Wargotz 8-1, Campbell 10-1, Andrew Langer 12-1 (withdrew), Hale 15-1, Amedori 18-1, Mooney 20-1, Esteve 25-1, field 50-1.
First revision 12/2/10: Kane 5-1, Eric Wargotz 7-1 (withdrew), Campbell 10-1, Hale 12-1, Amedori 15-1, Mooney 15-1, Esteve 20-1, field 75-1.