It was announced a couple weeks ago, but the notice of resignation from being Chair of the Maryland Republican Party was officially given by Alex Mooney to the state party yesterday. First Vice-Chair Diana Waterman will run the party as the interim Chair until the next state convention April 20 in Timonium. By delaying his official resignation to Thursday, Mooney eliminated the possibility of having a second meeting simply to elect a chair, as party bylaws stipulate a new permanent Chair must be selected within 60 days of a vacancy in the post.
In a brief statement released by the party, Mooney stated he was “humbled and honored” to have served as Chair for the past 26 months; meanwhile Waterman vowed to “work hard to ensure a smooth transition process…we look forward to continuing our aggressive approach and challenging the Democrats at every turn.”
With Mooney’s resignation, the party finds itself in a somewhat similar position as it did in 2009 when then-Chair Jim Pelura opted to leave after he lost the support of his Executive Committee over personnel issues and a lack of fundraising prowess. However, one big difference is that Mooney’s successor will have a longer time period remaining in the unexpired term, which will run just beyond the 2014 election. The 2009 Chair election only featured two candidates – eventual winner Audrey Scott and the late Daniel “The Wig Man” Vovak – in a race which had practically no suspense once Scott announced her intentions and interim Chair Chris Cavey (who was then First Vice-Chair) decided not to seek the remainder of Pelura’s term.
Scott’s brief tenure was a mixed bag of financial success but opportunities left on the table in some statewide races; it also featured the Rule 11 controversy.
At this early juncture, it’s not been made clear who will step forward to attempt to win the vacant Chair position, although Diana Waterman is – according to blogger Joe Steffen – the establishment choice. Steffen provides a laundry list of other possibilities, but for now Waterman is the only game in town, bruised feelings aside. While the interview was intended to serve as her platform for First Vice-Chair, readers may find this Red Maryland piece by Mark Newgent instructive on Diana’s intentions.
Yet given the length of the term, it’s not unexpected that others may jump into the fray, if only to benefit from the shuffling of the leadership deck atop the state party as a leadership post opens up. (For the record, the other two Vice-Chairs are Larry Helminiak of Carroll County and Eric Grannon of Anne Arundel County.)
Still, I think the timing on this is rather unfortunate – while the House of Delegates leadership was able to iron out its differences long enough to get through the session, Mooney’s resignation comes at a critical juncture. We would have been better served if Alex had held on for another couple months, while making his resignation effective the same date. It wouldn’t have appreciably changed his future plans but would have insured leadership through the General Assembly session. Otherwise, those who called for his head prior to the last convention may have had a point.
Once again, though, this race will make the upcoming convention a focal point in a way the Democrats rarely have to endure.