Md. GOP seeking cheaper digs

November 19, 2011

Consider it a sign of the times for the Maryland Republican Party: A large banner hoisted Friday across the front window of party headquarters in Annapolis advertises that its office space is now for “LEASE.”

The financially struggling state GOP is preparing to move from the prime spot it has occupied for more than a decade to a more economical location, Del. Justin D. Ready (R-Carroll) confirmed Saturday.


(John Wagner/The Washington Post)

State GOP Chairman Alex X. Mooney raised the possibility of moving shortly after taking over the post late last year, citing the $6,000 rent the party has been paying for the location on West Street downtown.

Since then, there has been another round of news reports about the party’s financial challenges, which include owing more money to vendors than it has in its bank accounts.

Ready said the party’s debt is not what prompted the decision to move.

“The truth is we would be moving if we had a half-million dollars in the bank,” he said.

The party staff must vacate its current location by the end of next month, Ready said, and is looking at a handful of other locations, including some outside downtown Annapolis, where the far-better-funded Maryland Democratic Party also maintains office space.

The state GOP has had its ups and downs in recent years but has struggled to raise money ever since former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) lost to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in 2006.

Democrats maintain large majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly and hold all statewide offices in Maryland. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state more than 2 to 1.

The state GOP is expecting at least a short-term financial boost next month when a signing party for Ehrlich’s new book will double as a party fundraiser.

Potential uses for the party’s current space at 15 West St. include office, retail and restaurant, according to the sign advertising its availability.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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