Mooney considers state party top job
Outgoing senator among many said to be thinking about leadership position
Still "recovering" from his loss to Democrat Ronald N. Young on Nov. 2, three-term state Sen. Alexander X. Mooney said he is considering running for Maryland GOP's top job.
"People have asked me to think about it and I haven't said no to it," said Mooney (R-Dist. 3) of Urbana. "It takes a lot of time and it doesn't pay anything, and I need to make money to support my family."
The Maryland Republican Party convenes Dec. 11 in Annapolis to elect new leaders. Nominations must come in the form of three signatures from central committee members from at least three counties, and be turned in by 6 p.m. Dec. 10, according to Ryan Mahoney, spokesman for Maryland State Central Committee.
Though Mooney, the executive director for the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., is worried about taking on such a hefty role without compensation, he believes he could do it well.
"I love politics and I'd be good at raising money for the party," Mooney said. "The job is high profile and would allow me to continue to fight for the Republican principles that I believe in."
The new chair will succeed Audrey Scott, who took the reins from Jim Pelura in November 2009.
Mahoney said others rumored to be considering the state party's top spot are Mike Estève, leader of the Maryland Federation of College Republicans; Sam Hale, who was field director for Brian Murphy, who lost his gubernatorial bid; Murphy himself; and Eric Wargotz, who lost a bid for U.S. Senate.
"It's a pretty diverse group," Mahoney said.
The only sure candidate is Ehrlich's running mate, Mary Kane, a former secretary of state whose husband John Kane was chair of the state party during the Ehrlich administration.
While some question a slate heavily weighted with defeated Republicans, others praise them for sticking with it.
"I give extra kudos to those individuals who just lost elections, but are willing to step up to the plate again so quickly and run for MDGOP chairman," said Tracy O'Dowd, who spearheaded the Ehrlich campaign in Frederick County. "That's a hard thing to do, and I applaud them for them for staying involved and continuing to work to advance the Republican Party."
Donald E. Murphy of Baltimore County, who represented District 12A in the Maryland House of Delegates for two terms in the 1990s and has remained active in state politics, has a different take on those who lost in November but are vying for the top job.
"It seems as though everyone who ran for office and lost is potentially interested in this seat," Murphy said. "I don't think anyone with higher political aspirations, and that includes Sen. Mooney, should be looking at this job as a springboard or life raft for higher office."
Should Mooney get the nod as party chair, Murphy believes he will move the GOP headquarters to Frederick.
"In this environment with Bob Ehrlich having suffered his second defeat and a great one at that, you really become the titular head of the party and I can't help but think that Sen. Mooney would use this to take him to the nomination for the Congressional seat," Murphy said. "I don't think that is what the chairmen's seat should be used for."
Mooney has long been viewed as Congressman Roscoe G. Bartlett's heir apparent to represent Maryland's District 6 in the U.S. House of Representatives. But as long as Bartlett's still in the running, Mooney said, he will stay out of the race.
Bartlett confirmed in an e-mail that he will seek re-election in 2012. "I am humbled by the strong support by voters in the 2010 election. I don't mean to sound flippant or irreverent, but as long as I continue to enjoy good health I will seek to serve the residents of the Sixth District in the Congress. Only the Lord knows for certain how long that will be," he said.
Despite speculation about the value of the state chair job for Mooney's political future, Murphy said he believes the nomination is Mary Kane's to lose. If anyone wants to truly challenge her, he or she better get busy.
"It's well past the time to be coy about this," Murphy said. "Either you are in or you are not."