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Stephen Wright, a member of the Harford County Republican Central Committee who recently filed to run for county executive, said he does not plan to resign from the central committee.

Wright, of Churchville, decided to challenge fellow Republican Harford County Executive David Craig in next year’s primary election.

Wright is also president of the Route 40 Republican Club. He said he does not have any interest in becoming chairman of the central committee.

Kim Wagner, chairwoman of the Harford County Republican Central Committee, said there is no bylaw or requirement that requires members to resign from the central committee if they run for an elected office.

Even so, one former committee member, Mike Geppi, was pressured into stepping down after he formally announced his campaign for the House of Delegates last summer. The Bel Air District 35B seat Geppi is seeking is held by fellow Republican Susan McComas, who has thus far indicated she plans to run for re-election next year.

Some central committee members, including Wagner, said Wright was among those who pushed Geppi into resigning.

“Back in October or November [2008], Mike Geppi said he was interested in running for [Harford County] Del. Susan McComas’ seat,” Wagner said. “He was chair at the time. People were unhappy he did that and he stepped down [as chairman].”

After Geppi resigned as chairman of the central committee, he remained active in the organization and served as chairman of communications for the committee from November 2008 until May 27, 2009 when he resigned from the committee altogether.

“During that time frame, numerous members on the committee, including Mr. Wright pressured him to resign from the committee because he was running against an incumbent,” Wagner said. “He resigned May 27 because of pressure from the committee, not just Mr. Wright, but other committee members who felt strongly if he was going to run for office he should not be on the committee.”

But Wright has a different view and says he was not involved in Geppi’s resignation from the committee.

“I was focused on my club,” Wright said, referencing the Route 40 Republican Club, which he founded earlier this year. “I wasn’t focused on much anything else besides campaigning for the club.”

As a general policy, Wagner said the central committee does not support or make recommendations in primary elections.

The committee’s members are elected by Republican voters in the county during the primary of a gubernatorial election, with 2010 being the next such primary. In addition to helping the party’s local candidates get elected, the committee’s most important function is to screen and nominate people for vacancies in local offices held by Republicans, which the current committee has done twice in its term.

“What we do is support the candidate nominated by the voters,” Wagner said. “Once we go through the primary process, then we all jump on board and help support, through grassroots efforts, the candidate chosen by our Republican voters.”

Individually, Wagner said, members of the central committee are “more than welcome to support any candidate of their choice in primary elections and to give them their time, talents and possession as they see fit, “because that’s what America is all about.”

“You go out there and fight for what you believe in,” Wagner said. “Personally, I’ve worked closely with David Craig. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the man. I believe he has the vision that my family needs, that my business needs and that my community needs to take us to the next level and I will be supporting David Craig 100 percent.”

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