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Former congressional candidate Collins Bailey was elected first vice chairman of the Maryland GOP after finishing second in the vote for party chairman April 20 during the party’s spring convention in Timonium.

A Waldorf businessman appointed in January to fill a vacancy on the Charles County Republican Central Committee, Bailey recently had announced his intentions to run for chairman, on the belief that he could improve coordination and consensus in a party that has long appeared disjointed.

He was beat out by elected Chairwoman Diana Waterman, a Queen Anne’s County resident who had served as the interim party chair since the February resignation of former chairman Alex X. Mooney.

But Bailey had enough support from the party’s Tea Party and libertarian caucuses to finish second to Waterman on the ballot, earning him the first vice chairman seat.

“I appreciate that the folks have that kind of confidence in me, and I hope we can do great things for our state,” he said.

Bailey has previously served 16 years on the Charles County Board of Education and twice run for Congress, losing both times — first in the 2008 general election to U.S. Rep Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md., 5th) and again in the 2010 Republican primary to Newburg resident Charles Lollar.

As Waterman’s deputy, Bailey intends to help carry out whatever vision she sets moving forward.

“It’s my job just to help make the chair be successful,” he said. “I expect to be available to the chair and the state party to work on whatever projects and activities we can help on, but again, it’s got to be at the direction of the chair because you can only have one person at the steering wheel.”

Bailey said he and Waterman are “just kind of getting to know each other’s strengths as a member of a team” but called the chairwoman “a remarkable lady, and I think she’s been a real workhorse for the party. She’s kind of been the ubiquitous personality.”

Bailey also didn’t harbor any hard feelings that the bulk of his own central committee drafted a letter endorsing Waterman, which raised eyebrows in some party circles.

“People have different positions and different opinions, and overall, I think the campaign run by the three of us was very positive,” Bailey said. “Not everybody can be loved by everybody, but that’s OK. We can all work together.”

Following her election, Waterman said she wants to work with Bailey and conservative blogger Greg Kline, her third opponent in the race for chairman, to refocus the party on picking up seats in the Maryland General Assembly.

In addition to running the party alongside Bailey, Waterman said she plans to reach out to Kline and solicit his help using new media, such as blogs and podcasts, to spread the party’s message.

Kline, who was endorsed by former Senate candidate Dan Bongino, was critical of several of Waterman’s actions as chairwoman, including her pick for Maryland’s representative on the RNC rules committee and the decision for the party’s executive director to appear at a GOP shadow event in South Carolina during Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley’s trip to the state in March.

Realistically, Republicans could gain at least three seats in the state Senate in 2014, if not the seven additional seats that would allow them to filibuster, Waterman said. The number of House seats the GOP could gain wasn’t yet clear, but that was going to be a tougher fight, she said.

The recently redrawn legislative districts have left Republicans at a disadvantage, but in the past two legislative sessions, “the Democrats have given us an enormous amount to work with,” Waterman said.

O’Malley’s gun-control legislation, for example, was an assault on citizens’ Second Amendment rights that would affect even those who don’t own guns and don’t want to own guns, Waterman said.

Furthermore, the increase in the state’s gas tax and a possible new wind power surcharge were added burdens on residents, Waterman said.

“We want to make sure constituents are aware of what legislators are doing to their pocket books,” she said.

Bailey agreed that Democratic lawmakers have made themselves vulnerable over the past few years.

“If you look at the legislation that’s been passed the last seven years, a lot of people I know are not too pleased,” he said. “I think our legislature unfortunately is making it harder for the working folks and the underprivileged in this state to make ends meet. It’s getting more expensive. You have to work more and harder for less. … In my opinion, the voice of nonreason has kind of prevailed, and that’s a shame.”

jnewman@somdnews.com