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Md. GOP leader contest: Mooney says maybe; Murphy and Rutledge say no

By John Wagner

Mooney mug.jpg

Here's yet another possible contender for chairman of the Maryland Republican Party: Sen. Alex X. Mooney (R-Frederick).

Mooney, a three-term state senator, lost a close race for reelection Nov. 2 to his Democratic challenger, former Frederick mayor Ron Young.

In an interview, Mooney said he would probably decide this week whether to pursue the GOP chairmanship.

"There are people who've asked me to consider it, and I've told them I'd consider it," he said.

Mooney said he would put a priority on raising money early in the four-year cycle, adding that the Maryland GOP needs a strong spokesperson, given the party's lack of statewide officeholders.

"I think it's important to have someone there who can articulate conservative Republican principles," Mooney said. "I'm an unabashed conservative."

Meanwhile, two other people whose names have been circulating in recent days have taken themselves out of contention for chairman: Brian Murphy and Jim Rutledge.

"Absolutely not, I have no interest," said Murphy, who lost the GOP nomination for governor this year to former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

A potential Murphy bid has received some play elsewhere, but Murphy, a business investor, said he's too focused now on running his companies.

"It's a really great position, but I don't have time," he said.

Jim Rutledge, who unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, has also taken himself out of the running, via an "open letter" posted on Facebook in which he nonetheless offered some strong views about where the party should go.

"This is the time for bold leadership, not the time to succumb to the siren's song of moderation, liberalization, and the club mentality of the Rockefeller Republicans who have held sway over too many elements of the party in MD for too long," Rutledge wrote in a letter addressed to the members of GOP central committees, who will choose the state chairman Dec. 11.

Rutledge, however, is not available. "I have obligations to fulfill that will not permit me to give the job the time it will require," he said.

Others who are either running for chairman or looking at the race include Mary Kane, Ehrlich's running mate this year; and Eric Wargotz, who won the GOP nomination for U.S. senator but got trounced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) in the general election; and Mike Estève, chairman of the Maryland College Republicans.

Photo: Alex Mooney

By John Wagner  | November 17, 2010; 3:00 PM ET
Categories:  General Assembly, John Wagner, Republican Party  
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