Shore Republican Women Advance in Leadership Roles
Two Eastern Shore Republican women moved up in state party leadership roles in recent days while one veteran Republican, State Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-Harford/Cecil), lost her post as the second-ranking GOP leader in the state Senate.
Queen Anne’s County Republican Diana Waterman was elected first vice-chair of the state Republican Party during a convention in Annapolis on Saturday. And earlier in the week, Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, of Talbot County, was elected to the second-ranking GOP leadership post, party whip, in the House of Delegates.
But Sen. Jacobs, who became GOP whip in the state Senate two years ago, lost that post less than two weeks ago when a former Senate Minority Leader, Sen. David Brinkley of Frederick County, reclaimed a leadership position. Brinkley had stepped down from the leadership two years ago amidst allegations of domestic problems and the then-Whip, Allen Kittleman, moved up to be minority leader. Kittleman was re-elected as leader recently.
Republicans lost two seats in the state Senate in the November election and now with just 12 GOP Senators, the whip has an easy job of vote counting: the entire caucus would fit in a large mini-van. Brinkley was viewed as anxious to return to a leadership position but would not challenge Kittleman for the top spot and had years of political ‘chits’ to call in to advance his goal.
In November, Jacobs barely lost her home base in Harford County to Democrat Art Helton but overwhelmingly carried the Cecil County portion of her District to win re-election.
In the House of Delegates, Haddaway-Riccio was the personal choice of incumbent minority leader Del. Tony O’Donnell to be the party whip, who functions as chief vote-counter and a floor leader for the Republicans in Annapolis. She replaces Del. Christopher Shank, who gave up his House seat to run successfully for state Senate.
She has been considered a rising star in state Republican circles since first being appointed in 2003, at the age of 26, to her seat in District 37B, which includes part of Caroline County on the Upper Eastern Shore, as well as all of Talbot County and parts of Dorchester and Wicomico counties. Her website is here: http://www.votehaddaway.com/index.htm
Haddaway-Riccio leapfrogged over Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36th), who has been the House GOP’s parliamentarian, in moving up in the party leadership ranks. O’Donnell had announced his selection of Haddaway-Riccio as his running-mate in late November and the House GOP caucus ratified that decision December 7. While Republicans picked up six seats in the general election, they are still vastly outnumbered by Democrats, 98-43.
Meanwhile, the election for chairmanship of the state Republican Party was a to-the-wire contest, but Diana Waterman had been considered a favorite to win the number two party leadership post at Saturday’s convention in Annapolis.
Republicans selected a Frederick County conservative, Alex Mooney, who lost his bid for re-election to the state Senate in November, as party chairman over Mary Kane, who ran for Lieutenant Governor on the losing ticket with Robert Ehrlich in November’s gubernatorial election. [See The Sun’s report here: ]
Waterman is a longtime member of the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee and active in regional and state Republican women’s groups. She is considered more moderate politically than Mooney, who took hard-line positions on social issues while in the state Senate. Her selection should bring some balance to the state party leadership as the GOP seeks to rebuild from Ehrlich’s devastating 14 percentage point loss to Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley.
Before her election at the state convention, Waterman answered questions from a conservative blog about her agenda for the state party:
Waterman has been a team player in 36th District politics, unlike some other Republicans. She had formed an exploratory committee for a possible run this year for state Delegate from District 36, which covers part of Cecil County as well as all of Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. She had hoped to run if Republican Del. Richard Sossi vacated his seat to run for the state Senate seat held by E.J. Pipkin— which he was expected to do if, and only if, Pipkin ran for a statewide office.
But Pipkin decided to seek re-election so Sossi ran for his House seat, thus leaving Waterman out in the cold because she did not want to challenge Sossi in a party primary. But a Pipkin ally, Steve Hershey, did challenge Sossi and defeated him in the Republican primary after a series of negative attack ads.
Pipkin did not return Sossi’s courtesy and actively opposed Sossi in the primary and Pipkin financed a negative mailing against him.
The advances in state Republican politics by two nearby Eastern Shore women signal important gains for bringing some new voices into leadership positions. Two Republican women also gained seats on the five-member Cecil County Board of Commissioners in November, the first time that more than one woman has held a seat on that panel. Elected were Tari Moore, Dist.2, and Diana Broomell, Dist. 4.