Maryland Republican Party Chairman Dirk Haire won’t seek reelection in January, telling GOP central committee members that the party engaged in “petty nonsense” and lacked the discipline to unite during an election in which Republicans were split between allegiance to Gov. Larry Hogan and former President Donald Trump.
“For every Trump supporter who tells me I need to condemn Hogan in the name of the party, there is a Hogan supporter who tells me I need to condemn Trump in the name of party unity,” Haire told central committee members last week in an email that he provided to The Baltimore Sun.
“I hope that during the next four years all State Central Committee members will set aside personal agendas and grievances and find a way to work together to elect all of our Republican nominees, and stop with the counterproductive and petty nonsense,” his email said. The central committee is the state party’s governing body.
Haire, an attorney with the Fox Rothschild law firm in Washington, was first elected by the state party in 2016. His third term ends Jan. 4.
Haire said his decision not to run again was partly “personal” because his duties as chairman take him away from his law firm and family. His wife, Anne Arundel County Council member Jessica Haire, remains in a tight race for county executive against Democratic incumbent Steuart Pittman.
But Haire also expressed frustration that the party could not “stick together” leading up to Tuesday’s midterm elections.
He wouldn’t say whether he preferred Hogan or Trump. “My personal opinions on Hogan and Trump don’t matter to my duties as Party Chairman. And your personal views don’t matter as to your duties as a State Central Committee member. Unfortunately, too many involved in the Party do not share my view,” Haire wrote.
Republican gubernatorial nominee Dan Cox, a right-wing supporter of Trump who obtained the former president’s endorsement, captured just 36% of the statewide vote in losing to Democrat Wes Moore. Republican candidates for attorney general and comptroller also lost badly.
In the wake of a disappointing national showing in the midterm elections, many believe national Republicans must decide whether to distance themselves from Trump, a divisive figure who styles himself as a Republican kingmaker.
Maryland Policy & Politics
“The first priority is to reestablish party unity and overcome the schism of the Hogan/Trump years,” said Tom Kennedy, chairman of the Baltimore City Republican Central Committee. “Ideological lines were drawn. The clash of the titans made headlines but did little to advance the Republican cause in our state. We suffered for it at the ballot box.”
Democrats hold a better than 2-to-1 voter registration advantage in Maryland, meaning statewide Republicans must stitch together coalitions of Republican, Democratic and unaffiliated voters to win.
Hogan, who won his second term in 2018 and was term-limited from seeking reelection, was the first Republican to be reelected Maryland governor since Theodore McKeldin in 1954.
His choice for governor this year, Kelly Schulz, lost to Cox in the July primary. Hogan condemned Cox’s nomination, called him a “QAnon whack job” and said he would not support or vote for him in the general election.
Many other GOP leaders had also supported Schulz.
Haire said Republicans working together “will have legitimate opportunities to win many meaningful races across Maryland.”
But he cautioned: “If instead, you insist on continuing with the circular firing squad, you can be certain that we will continue to have losses in voter registration and be unable to compete effectively in meaningful races in swing districts and statewide.”