Republican politician and activist Audrey Scott emerged this week as the front-runner for chairman of the Maryland GOP when the party's first vice chairman dropped out of the running.
The beleaguered party plans to select a new chairman at its convention next month. Scott had been in a close race against Chris Cavey, a state party officer and chairman of the Baltimore County central committee. Cavey said he withdrew to preserve party cohesiveness.
FOR THE RECORD - An article Thursday said that the Maryland Republican Party has to repay $75,000 to former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's Senate campaign account; it actually has to be paid to Steele's state campaign account.
The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.
"It was very noble of him because our party needs unity," Scott said, noting she was not involved in recent party turmoil. "We need to get beyond our family squabble so we can get on to the bigger issue of electing Republicans and truly making this a two-party state."
The GOP has been beset by infighting and financial problems that culminated with the resignation of Chairman James Pelura in September.
Party insiders complained that Pelura fell short on party-building activities like voter registration and that he hurt morale by criticizing elected Republicans. And the party's fundraising is expected to be hampered by a recent agreement with the State Board of Elections that calls for the party to repay $75,000 owed to former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's Senate campaign account.
Still, many in the GOP see opportunities for gains in the 2010 elections. "With what's looking like a Republican tide coming in, we want to win, and I have no doubt that everyone deep down inside wants to be on the same page," Cavey said. "Everyone understands the best way to maximize our chances is to all work together."
Scott has had a long political career, serving as mayor of Bowie for six years until 1982, then working at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for a decade. She then won a seat on the Prince George's County Council, where she served until 2002.
Meanwhile, another candidate for party chairman, Daniel Vovak, remains in the race and doesn't appear to shy away from making waves. Vovak, who refers to himself as "The Wig Man," has called for Mark Uncapher's resignation as chairman of the party's nominating committee, saying he should remain neutral but is backing Scott.