- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Former congressional candidate Collins Bailey has tossed his hat in the ring for consideration as the next chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
A Waldorf businessman who was appointed in January to fill a vacancy on the Charles County Republican Central Committee, Bailey believes the party would benefit from improved communication and consensus-building among its members, and would strive to bring both if elected next month.
“One reason why I decided that why I’m running for the position is because it’s my personality to bring people together to see a common vision and work together, and I think we could use some focus on that area,” Bailey said. “I wouldn’t say we’re broken, but I wouldn’t say we’re as coordinated and focused as what I hope we would be and what I think we will be with me as chairman.”
Former chairman Alex Mooney announced his resignation last month. The next chairperson will be elected April 20 at the MDGOP’s convention in Timonium.
In the past, Bailey served 16 years on the Charles County Board of Education and twice ran for Congress, losing both times — first in the 2008 general election to U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) and again in the 2010 Republican primary to Newburg resident Charles Lollar.
When Lollar announced in November 2011 that he would not oppose Hoyer again, Bailey said he would run for a third time if no one else stepped forward, as Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s) eventually did.
Central committee Chairman Kirk Bowie said he put his support behind MDGOP Interim Chairwoman Diana Waterman weeks ago, before Bailey announced his own intentions, but said that the same qualities that persuaded the committee to appoint Bailey would serve him well if he was elected.
“He’s a hard worker. He knows a lot of people in the county. He’s very conscientious and very loyal to the party effort here, so we figure he’s got a lot of energy and he’s a man of integrity,” Bowie said.
Bowie said the GOP is “trying to figure out what we want to present as we go forward,” adding that it was possible to stick to the party’s “core principles of fiscal conservatism and individual liberty” while also bringing together people of diverse conservative leanings.
“It’s probably trying to bring all these folks back together, the ‘big tent’ idea. Reagan used to talk about the big tent,” Bowie said. “We do need to kind of accommodate the libertarian perspective. I think that’s attractive to a lot of young people.”
Former central committee chairman Bruce Wesbury, who spent a decade on the committee before resigning in January, said he didn’t think the state party would benefit from having a strict conservative at its head.
“On a conservative sliding scale, [Bailey] is way to the right, and the central committee is in the middle, and that’s really what it boils down to,” Wesbury said. “We will not be able to grow our party from the right. I think we need to grow the party more from the left and be more inclusive.”
Wesbury said the 2012 election served as proof that Republicans cannot win elections by doubling down on hardline conservative values.
“Personally, I don’t think he’s qualified. He hasn’t had much input on the local party at all, and certainly hasn’t had any experience in the state party at all,” Wesbury said. “I don’t think there’s a chance in hell he wins.”