You know, I think this was a reason some were concerned about Alex Mooney becoming chair.
But late on Tuesday the Maryland Republican Party Chair announced he was forming an exploratory committee for the Sixth District seat now held by Roscoe Bartlett, who is beginning to look more and more like a lame duck candidate – case in point, the strong suspicion that his (now former) chief of staff, Bud Otis, may be making a bid for the GOP nomination. Bear in mind there were already several candidates in the race for the Sixth District before all this intrigue began, making the statewide Senate race look cut-and-dried by comparison.
Mooney portrayed his timeline in a release from yesterday:
(On Wednesday) Maryland Republican Party Chairman Alex Mooney officially filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to form a campaign fundraising committee called “Mooney for Congress.”
“With the recent news about Congressman Roscoe Bartlett’s long time chief-of-staff preparing to run for Congress and the Democratic Party’s cynical and corrupt redistricting plan to oust Congressman Bartlett, I felt it was time for me also to start an exploratory committee for Congress. We cannot let Congressman Bartlett’s seat be taken by a tax-and-spend liberal like Rob Garagiola. Our economy is suffering and we need more jobs– not more government, more debt and more taxes,” said Mooney.
Donations can be made to “Mooney for Congress” and Mr. Mooney plans to officially file as a candidate for Congress in January, at which time he would step down from his position as Chairman of the Maryland Republican Party and take a leave of absence from his job running a non-profit organization which trains journalists.
So let’s work the timeline forward: the filing deadline for the primary election is January 11. Assuming Mooney files on that day, the reins of the party would be handed to First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman until a special convention is called. That convention would need to be held by March 12 in order to satisfy the sixty-day window in our bylaws.
(You may recall the last time we had a resignation former Chair Jim Pelura set his termination date for exactly 60 days prior to the next convention, thoughtfully saving the Party – and each of us Central Committee members – a needless expense.)
Unfortunately primary politics doesn’t work well with our announced Spring convention date, for that isn’t set until April 28, 2012. Of course, if the MDGOP decided to move its Spring Convention to March we could create some interesting opportunities for sponsorships and fundraising since a March date would put us just weeks before the primary. It would also possibly ensure some who are already on the ballot to be delegates and alternates to the national convention a place without having to sweat out election day because we select the remaining sets of ten delegates and alternates from Maryland at the state gathering.
Another facet of this announcement by Mooney is his legacy to the party. He admitted that fundraising hasn’t been as strong as he had envisioned, and the timing of his resignation would come just as the Maryland Republican apparatus is leaving their longtime Annapolis home for parts currently unknown. I don’t foresee the MDGOP living in the back of a van but this would leave Mooney’s successor in a bit of a pickle for a term which could conceivably last just eight months – a bylaw change from last spring (which Alex backed) changed the term of the MDGOP chair to a two-year term and Alex was elected last December. Obviously many may question if the party is stronger and more united now than it was in the afterglow of the 2010 election.
It’s way too soon to speculate who could run for Party chair if Mooney indeed resigns in January, but since none of the four other contenders who made it to the post last time around are running for other offices this time, nor are 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Eric Wargotz or Institute for Liberty head Andrew Langer – both of whom made overtures for the post but backed out late in the game – it’s quite likely one or more may wish to try again.
With the names I’m hearing through the grapevine for some of these positions – for example, State Senator David Brinkley also jumped into the Sixth District battle today and has a whole host of elected officials backing his bid, while former Senate Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs is contemplating a Second District run and Delegate Pat McDonough has waffled between running for Congress and the U.S. Senate – I must say the Republicans are making the possible 2014 scrum for the Democratic nomination for Governor (that rumored cage match between statewide officeholders Anthony Brown, Peter Franchot, Doug Gansler, and perhaps some other heavy hitters) look like a church picnic. Since only one can win and the others have to work together in some capacity, let’s make sure to train our guns on the right targets. Alex Mooney has the right idea in that respect as he lays into Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola by name. (He forgot the “Gas Tax” part; but then again that’s my creation. I think it should be Rob’s new middle name, don’t you?)
And we thought the 2008 First District race was political gold. It has nothing on this year’s Sixth District happenings because they’ll affect the very direction the Maryland GOP takes over the course of the next electoral cycle.