AUGUSTA (AP) – Randy Bumps, a former state legislator and aide to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, was elected Saturday as the new chairman of the Maine Republican Party.

Bumps, 32, of Minot, drew no opposition as the party’s state committee picked a successor to three-term chairwoman Kathy Watson of Pittsfield and fill other posts.

Bumps pledged to expand the party’s network of volunteers in order to win control of the Legislature and elect a Republican governor in 2006.

“As chair of the Maine Republican Party, I am committed to building a first rate organization that will take the Democrats to task for the fiscal mess that the majority party has created,” Bumps said.

“Maine Democrats must acknowledge the need for immediate tax relief and spending reform in Augusta. Their empty fiscal policies guarantee stymied business growth and that Maine will remain one of the highest taxed states in the nation,” he said.

A Bates College graduate, Bumps served three terms in the Maine House and worked as Collins’ state director. He was executive director of the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign organization in Maine and now works as a consultant.

The state committee, meeting at Augusta City Hall, also elected Mark Ellis of Augusta as vice chairman, Kim Pettengill of Pittston as secretary and Phil Roy of Fairfield as treasurer.

Although Republicans picked up some seats in the House of Representatives last month, Democrats retained control of both legislative chambers.

The election marked President George W. Bush’s second defeat in a state where his family has long maintained a summer home.

Maine Democrats plan to elect a new chairman next month as incumbent Dorothy Melanson is expected to step down.

Gov. John Baldacci has “encouraged” outgoing House Speaker Patrick Colwell to seek the post, according to gubernatorial spokesman Lee Umphrey, but several others have expressed interest.

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