State Sen. Joe Pennacchio’s (R-Montville) call for Republican State Chairman Tom Wilson to resign will not likely be answered in the affirmative, but whether Wilson will serve another two-year term is uncertain.
After Wilson’s term expires in June, tradition dictates that the Republican gubernatorial nominee gets to pick the next chairman. That choice will be ratified by the 42-member Republican State Committee, which will likely accede to the nominee’s pick.
“We have a tradition in the Republican Party that the successful gubernatorial nominee is the one who gets to decide who his or her state chair will be,” said Wilson, who said he did not want to respond to Pennacchio’s press release. “I expect that not to be any different. If there’s a nominee who wants to ask me if I’m interested in staying, that will be a discussion between that nominee and I.”
However, multiple Republican sources say that Wilson has never intended to seek another term as state chairman. In fact, there was talk of him stepping down before the primary, although he said today that he will serve until at least June.
Wilson, for his part, said that his decision in June will depend on “who that nominee is and what kind of vision they have going forward.”
“I will defer completely to the nominee, and if that person wants someone different that’s what they’re entitled to. If they want me to stick around for some period of time, we’ll have a discussion about that.”
Already, several names have surfaced as potential successors:
Political consultant George Dredden, whose name Pennacchio raised today. Dredden, who was deputy manager of Pennacchio’s U.S. Senate campaign, is said to be making phone calls to gauge support for a bid. As an African-American, his candidacy would dovetail with former Maryland Lieutenant Gov. Michael Steele’s bid for Republican National Committee Chairman.
Campaign veteran Mark Duffy, who managed the races of all three of the Republican establishment’s successive choices for U.S. Senate this year – Anne Estabrook, Andy Unanue and, finally, Dick Zimmer – is also said to be interested in the post.
Neither Duffy nor Dredden could immediately be reached for comment.
Former congressional candidate Bill Spadea’s name popped up as well, though he downplayed the possibility in a phone interview today. Instead, he said he’d prefer to focus on running his grassroots fundraising organization, Building a New Majority.
“I don’t know that I’d be interested, to be quite honest with you, in pursuing some kind of organizational party chairmanship or anything similar in terms of the Republican organization,” he said. “I feel that right now I’m in a strong position as the person who can help lead this organization.”
State Sen. Bill Baroni’s (R-Hamilton) name also comes up, though in a temporary capacity. Some Republicans would like to see him run the party through the general election, after which they’ll choose a new chairman. Baroni, however, wouldn’t speculate on the possibility.
“Tom’s doing a good job there and I’m not going to speculate about a job that doesn’t exist,” he said.