Waterman to step down as Republican Party chairman
CHESTER — Queen Anne’s County resident Diana Waterman will leave her job as chairman of the Maryland Republican Party next month after successfully pulling the organization out of debt, adding Republicans to the state legislature and electing a Republican governor.
And Republicans in general have captured the White House with the election of Donald Trump.
Besides politics, Waterman has been successful in her private life, too. She publicly battled breast cancer while chairing the state Republican Party at the same time. She is now cancer free and will continue to work at the family business, Coldwell Banker Waterman Realty, in Chester.
Waterman, who lives north of Centreville, sat down to an interview on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at her office. She’s been chairman, an elected position, of the Maryland Republican Party for a little more than three and a half years.
Dirk Haire, an attorney from Edgewater, was elected to replace her, effective Jan. 3. All the offices for the statewide organization were elected during a recent convention the party held.
Waterman decided to not seek another term. She said in the interview that her battle with cancer was not the reason she didn’t run. But her choice fulfills a promise with her husband, Barry.
“I promised him I wouldn’t run again. It’s such a time demanding job,” she said. “It’s also good to have new blood.”
There is no salary for the chairman, yet it’s a full-time job. The chairman is expected to attend meetings and events throughout the state and the big priorities of the job are fundraising and getting Republican elected at the many different levels of government.
Waterman was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2015, under went chemotherapy, and had double mastectomy surger y last April and then finished up with radiation this past summer. She’s now cancer free.
“I was able to continue to serve as chairman while going through treatment. I had to cut back my activities a lot. But my staff and other officers helped out,” she said.
Waterman decided to talk about her cancer publicly, which is what Gov. Larry Hogan did about his successful cancer battle. “I wanted to help others,” Waterman said. “He helped so many people throughout his treatment. If I could do anything to help anyone like he did, I wanted to.”
While chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, Waterman was successful at improving its financial situation.
In October 2013, the state party was $150,000 in debt with $10,000 cash on hand, but when Waterman leaves office, the organization will have $250,000 in cash on hand with no debt, said Joe Cluster, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party.
Also, two Republicans were added to the state Senate and seven more in the House of Delegates, meaning the Republican Party won’t be in a super minority, Cluster said. Also more than 50 Republicans were elected in local offices, Waterman said.
Cluster describes Waterman as a “workhorse” in the party over the last three and a half years and one of the most successful chairman in the party in the past 50 years.
The Maryland Republican Party was instrumental in getting Republican Larry Hogan elected governor because it raised $1.8 million for his campaign, which when added to state financing, meant there was $4.2 million to spend on his campaign, Cluster said.
Fundraising is a big part of Waterman’s job. Waterman said she was able to raise money by securing large donations in the $10,000 to $20,000 range. Trump spoke in Maryland in June 2015, which raised more money. People will more willing to donate money simply because the state party also secured donations simply because more people were more willing to give because a Republican was governor, she said.
“And we were fiscally conservative in our expenditures. We got our overhead costs down as low as possible,” Waterman said.
During the interview, Waterman also commented about Trump’s victory. “The state party was fully supportive of the nominee once that was decided,” she said.
In the primary, there were 17 Republican candidates and, for some, Trump was not their first choice, she said, “but he was definitely the best choice in the general election. I don’t believe Hillary Clinton was fit to lead our country.”
She believes Trump the president will be very different from the Trump, the candidate. “He is a marketing expert and was marketing himself. If you don’t get elected, you don’t get to serve. He truly wants to make America the best she can be. And I believe that his goals and how he will serve will reflect that,” Waterman said.
Also during the interview, Waterman talked about her future plans. She’s not exactly sure what role she will take, but she will likely volunteer for something political since she’s been “living and breathing” political activism for so long.
“I don’t have a defined role yet, but I’m sure I’ll be doing something to get Republicans elected in our state,” Waterman said.
Throughout her life, Waterman has valued ser vice to others even in roles that aren’t political. She was a Girl Scout from Brownies through Troop leadership and in other community service organizations both in and out of school.
As a parent, she served as a Cub Scout den mother, Girl Scout leader, and as a member and officer of the Parents Association of her children’s schools.
When her children came close to finishing high school, she turned her volunteer hours toward the world of Mar yland politics, joining the Chesapeake Republican Women in the fall of 2005. Since then, she served as president of of Chesapeake Republican Women, Eastern Shore regional chair for the Mar yland Federation of Republican Women (MFRW), and the first vice-president of the MFRW.