Jessica and Dirk Haire want to set a few things straight.

They’re not moving to North Carolina, as some have speculated.

The porn industry did not fund her campaign for Anne Arundel County executive, as one opponent suggested.

Jessica doesn’t drive a Range Rover, though she did appear in front of a white luxury SUV for a campaign ad in her failed bid to unseat County Executive Steuart Pittman. And Dirk, who ended his six years as Maryland Republican Party chair on Saturday, now feels free to speak his mind — about the Democrats’ strategy of propping up far-right GOP candidates and the state of his own party.

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“If Steuart Pittman and the Democrat party gave two shits about good government, the [Democratic Governors Association] wouldn’t have spent $2 million propping up Dan Cox and Stuart Pittman wouldn’t have run a half million dollars worth of lies on TV superimposing former President Trump and Cox with her,” Dirk Haire said, referring to his wife.

Ahem. No, tell us what you really think, Dirk.

The Haires are partners in national law firms, and live an affluent life with their four children in Edgewater. If the elections had gone their way, if former Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz had won the Republican primary for governor and Jessica had won her race in November — they might be a Republican power couple on the rise.

Instead, they’re headed out of politics for now. Last week, they sat down for a short interview in Annapolis about what went wrong, what they got right and where they go from here.

“I do think our message resonated with a lot of voters and I stand by it,” Jessica said. “I think we need to return to fiscal responsibility. We need to be supportive of our public safety officers and we need to have a government that functions. I don’t see any of those things coming in the second term from Pittman.”

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Pittman laughed off the Haires’ harsh criticism. “Oh, wow. Well, OK. I won’t invite them to any Christmas parties,” the Democrat said.

He was reelected by a convincing 7 percentage points. I’ve argued that the vote was a validation of his philosophy of a properly funded, muscular county government and an end to Anne Arundel’s long-running leash on government by property tax cap.

Jessica ran on bringing a return to that era, including a 3% property tax cut, a promise to do more with less, ideas on private-sector partnerships, and a general assault on what she characterized as wasteful spending. She felt that her opponents, former Del. Herb McMillan in the GOP primary and then Pittman in November, resorted to personal attacks rather than discussing policy differences.

“I was shocked by my primary opponent’s behavior and then again shocked by my general election opponent’s behavior. ... I think it’s a disservice to the general public who, frankly, get exhausted by it,” she said.

McMillan attacked her relationship with Dirk, saying it was an unfair advantage in the GOP primary, called her unethical and dishonest, and put out a campaign flyer saying she was supported by the porn industry. Haire filed a legal brief in Virginia for a pornography distributor years ago, but she was an associate at the time, doing the bidding of a partner in California.

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After the primary election, McMillan wrote a scathing op-ed urging Republicans to hold their noses and vote for Pittman.

Pittman and PACs supporting him labeled her a closet MAGA radical and tied her to Dan Cox, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for governor who eventually lost badly, even though she says she’s never met him and wasn’t endorsed by him. Pittman said her opposition to tax breaks for affordable housing was tantamount to racism in a debate, a critique she later said was the same as calling her a racist.

Haire largely self-funded her campaign, loaning it more than half a million dollars. She also received a major contribution from the developer of a proposed landfill near Gambrills. Pittman and McMillan both hammered her for it. Jessica publicly said she was opposed to the landfill.

Now Dirk is moving on from the Maryland Republican Party, which elected a new chair on Saturday in what videos posted on social media show was a contentious meeting. Gordana Schifanelli, Cox’s combative running mate, walked out of the meeting.

“What’s going on here is representative of the disrespect, the disunity and the nonsense that went on in this election,” Dirk said over shouts from angry party members at the gathering.

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The convention at Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover was closed to the press, but the party announced the new chair as Nicole Beus Harris, the wife of U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s sole Republican in Congress. Her election gives rise to another GOP power couple and signals a shift to the right for the party.

“These things go in cycles. I get that. I think what you’re getting for me today is for six years. I haven’t been able to say what I think because I’ve spent six years having to defend Trump and [Republican Gov. Larry] Hogan,” Dirk said. “And you know, in reality, I don’t think either Trump or Hogan is the right model for the Maryland Republican Party.

“I personally think the party ought to trend more in the direction of say a [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis or [Virginia Gov. Glenn] Youngkin, who are solid conservatives who do what they say they’re gonna do,” Dirk said, adding that both also are not bullied by liberals and “they keep their mouth shut.”

He said party primaries and social media are killing not just the Republican Party, but also the country — providing a platform for the most radical, least practical voices on all sides of the political spectrum.

“It is impossible to have a reasonable conversation and there are very few reasonable politicians on either side of the aisle at this point,” he said.

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Republicans have long been at a disadvantage in Maryland, outnumbered 2-to-1 by Democrats on the voter rolls. GOP numbers have been falling for years, even as the Democrats stay flat. Meanwhile, the number of independents continues to grow to the point where they could one day outnumber Republicans.

“The problem is voter registration. ... That disadvantage has steadily increased,” Dirk said.

A lot of this has been driven by Trump’s frightening conduct and, in the latest cycle, Cox’s allegiance to the former president. Jessica believes that the Republican brand still has value if candidates avoid extreme partisanship. She doesn’t see how trash pickup is a Republican vs. Democrat issue.

She almost jumped out of her seat when I pointed out that county schools have started using vans, which don’t require a commercial driver’s license, to supplement the short supply of school bus drivers. It’s an idea she pushed during her campaign and while she was on the council.

“It does not matter if you’re Democrat, Republican or unaffiliated. I think we really, as a community, need to get back — and I will continue to push this forever — we need to get back to getting things done, functioning, being efficient.”

Jessica first agreed to sit down for an interview the morning after she conceded to Pittman, but she had other priorities for that day.

“I am lucky to get to be a chaperone for one of my kids’ field trips,” she wrote in an email.

So, when we finally got together last week, she said several times that she won’t always be too busy for other things.

“I dramatically outperformed the folks running statewide,” she said. “So that would indicate, actually, that my message resonated with a whole lot of folks. And maybe it’ll resonate again in the future.”