Voter rule leaves Lollar on the outside
Run for governor unlikely, but Congress a possibility
A state constitutional requirement that a gubernatorial candidate must be a registered voter in Maryland for five years apparently will prevent Charles County Republican Central Committee Chairman Charles J. Lollar from seeking the state's highest office.
Lollar, 38, of Newburg said Tuesday that he plans to announce his 2010 electoral plans in the coming weeks. He has spent the past few months speaking at GOP club meetings and anti-tax rallies across the state, fueling speculation about a statewide bid.
But it appears running for governor is no longer an option.
A candidate for governor or lieutenant governor must have been a resident and registered voter of the state for five years before the general election, according to Article II, Section 5 of the Maryland Constitution.
Lollar moved to Charles County from suburban Atlanta in October 2005 and submitted his voter registration application with his vehicle registration shortly thereafter, he said.
However, a copy of his voter registration card on file at the Charles County Board of Elections obtained by The Gazette shows he signed and dated his application June 6, 2006. He maintained that the application was not processed until June — some eight months after he says he had submitted it — for unknown reasons.
But Charles County Board of Elections Director Tracy Dickerson called the assertion "impossible," because Lollar signed it June 6, and it was time-stamped and processed the following day, she said.
"It's clear as a bell," Dickerson said. "He signed it and dated it, and we go by the voter's signature. We time-stamp it as soon as it's in our office."
Lollar said he was aware of the residency and voter registration requirements to run for governor. He added that he is considering the possibility of challenging the date of his voter registration.
"It's one of those things where I've really had to think long and hard about whether to fight this," he said Tuesday.
But a Republican source said Lollar, who has gained a higher profile within GOP circles as chairman of the Commission for Citizen Tax Relief, established in January by the state Republican Party, was set to announce the formation of a gubernatorial exploratory committee this past Tuesday until he became aware of the constitutional requirement last week.
Lollar would have had to register by Nov. 2, 2005 — five years before the date of the 2010 general election — to be eligible to run for governor, said deputy state elections administrator Ross Goldstein.
Mike Pappas, a Baltimore County Republican who has announced plans to run for governor next year, said Thursday that he was unaware of Lollar's ineligibility to seek the governorship.
"It's a shame because I was looking forward to a spirited debate and a lively campaign," he said.
A congressional bid against U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Dist. 5) of Mechanicsville now seems most likely for Lollar, who acknowledged that possibility on Tuesday.
The U.S. Constitution states that a candidate for the House of Representatives must be a U.S. citizen for seven years and a resident of the state in which he is elected.
Following President Obama's prime-time news conference Wednesday night, Lollar issued a press release as chairman of a group called Concerned Citizens for a Better Maryland decrying the administration's attempt to rush a flawed health care reform proposal through Congress.
Maryland Republican Party Chairman James Pelura III said he did not know about Lollar's eligibility to run for governor, but said he "would make a good candidate for any office that he decides to go after."
Trying to unseat Hoyer wouldn't be easy for Lollar, who lost his only previous bid for elected office for Gwinnett County, Ga., school board in 2004.
Meanwhile, the House Majority Leader boasts a mammoth campaign war chest and has received at least 65 percent of the vote in every general election since 1998.