Maryland Republican Party interim chairman Diana Waterman fended off challenges and won election as head of the state GOP this past weekend, taking the reins as the party faces a shortened fundraising session for state lawmakers and challenges from newly redrawn election districts.
Waterman had been interim chair since February, when the previous chairman, former state Sen. Alex X. Mooney, announced his plans to resign.
Waterman, of Queen Anne's County, won a majority of votes on the second ballot at the party's spring convention, beating Collins Bailey, popular with the Tea Party and a member of the Charles County Central Committee, and Greg Kline, an Anne Arundel County attorney and blogger.
She takes over the party as Republicans face challenges from redistricting that have already resulted in the loss of one congressional seat. Party insiders say at least a dozen Republican legislative seats could be up for grabs in the General Assembly.
Waterman said her first goal is to mend the fractures within the party that have divided members along libertarian leaning and socially conservative lines.
"There are not enough Republicans out there that we can be in separate groups," she said.
After that, she said, fundraising for the party becomes "almost a full-time job." The party's next major fundraising event is a June 20 dinner featuring the 2012 Republican nominee for vice president, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Waterman said that despite the challenges from redistricting, the increased gas tax and new gun control laws, along with other initiatives approved by the Democrat-controlled legislature, created "windows of opportunity" for Republicans.
"They're going to make the races a little more interesting," she said.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun