Veterinarian named state GOP chairman

The Baltimore Sun

The Maryland Republican Party selected an Anne Arundel County veterinarian as its new chairman yesterday as members work to rebuild after a poor showing in November's election.

Jim Pelura, a longtime Republican activist, was the state chairman for President Bush's re-election campaign and the Anne Arundel chairman for Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s campaign this year. He replaces Montgomery County businessman John Kane, who led the GOP for the past four years. Pelura was selected at an annual convention in Annapolis.

"I am a loyal Republican that feels this party is on the verge of making some significant changes in Maryland politics, and I want to be a part of it, and I think I have ideas that can help us do that," he said.

Pelura, whose duties will include fundraising, grass-roots organizing and candidate recruitment, said he believes most Marylanders are fairly conservative and that his party's biggest task is to effectively communicate its values and message.

The party chose Chris Cavey, chairman of the Baltimore County Central Committee, as its first vice chairman, and Chuck Gast, the former chairman of the Anne Arundel central committee as second vice chairman. Michael Geppi of Bel Air was elected third vice chairman, Rex Reed of Gaithersburg as secretary and Robert C. "Chris" Rosenthal of Edgewater as treasurer.

Pelura, 58, a father of four, will lead the party in the wake of losses by Ehrlich for governor, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele for U.S. Senate and several incumbent delegates for re-election. Many within his party have said the GOP faces a monumental task of grooming candidates with broad appeal.

Pelura said the party can effectively recruit appealing candidates who are not in office and that the climb back to the top won't be as long as many people think. "The optimist in me believes in 2010 we'll be back in Annapolis," Pelura said, referring to the next gubernatorial election.

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