Massachusetts Republican State Committee chairman Robert A. Maginn Jr. announced Wednesday that he will not run for reelection next month, setting the stage for a battle over the direction of the party.
Behind the scenes, two state committee members said, outgoing US Senator Scott Brown is pushing for the next chairman to be Kirsten Hughes, a leader of his campaign finance team and a city councilor in Quincy.
Brown, who lost his reelection bid last month, is viewed as a party standardbearer and a front-
runner for upcoming statewide races who could benefit from installing an ally as the party’s chairman.
Hughes previously worked as the Republican Party’s field director in Massachusetts and is viewed as the establishment candidate, which could be both a blessing and a curse among GOP activists in Massachusetts.
Brown’s campaign aides did not respond to requests for comment.
The leadership discussion could again expose the fissure in the state party factions, between those backed by elected moderates and the libertarian and socially conservative forces that have tried to nudge the state committee to the right, with increasing success.
Maginn, 56, the outgoing chairman, was installed by former governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney but was recently able to gain ground with conservatives.
An evangelical Christian who spoke often of his faith, he welcomed a discussion over whether the state party should adopt the conservative platform adopted by the national GOP in August. That platform, which rejected gay marriage and called for banning abortion without exception, was ultimately not embraced by Massachusetts party activists.
On Wednesday, Maginn announced his decision to state committee members in a letter in which he wrote, “I have not heard the voice of the Lord calling me to seek reelection as chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party at this time.”
He wrote: “As a man of deep Christian beliefs, it has been personally satisfying to be able to have presided over the committee during a time when more social conservatives were elected to our ranks. I believe it has been very healthy to have vibrant debate over the direction of our party and how we align our Republican values with the electorate.”
Maginn did not return a phone call from the Globe.
An often controversial figure, Maginn rankled activists soon after he was elected in December 2011 when the Globe reported that he had donated to Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, in the 2010 election. A Harvard Business School graduate and onetime Bain & Co. consultant, he bought Romney’s longtime home in Belmont and led Romney’s finance committee during his first presidential bid.
He was also a generous contributor to Republicans, and under his leadership employees of Jenzabar Inc., the software company he heads, became a leading source of Republican donations. Jenzabar also gave $250,000 to a super PAC supporting Romney’s campaign, hosted fund-raisers for Brown, and hired several Republican operatives as consultants.
Maginn presided over the state party as Republicans, who comprise less than 12 percent of registered voters, lost even more ground.
Republicans lost their most promising challenge in Congress when Richard R. Tisei failed to unseat US Representative John F. Tierney. Republicans also lost seats in the Legislature. They will hold just four seats in the 40-member Senate and 29 of 160 in the House.
Maginn said that he kept the promises he made and that he had worked hardest to help GOP lawmakers win reelection.
“The results of Nov. 6 in no way diminish the time, effort, emotion, and commitment put forth on behalf of our candidates up and down the ballot by each of you,” Maginn wrote.
Another candidate expected to run for party chairman, Richard Green, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night to gauge his intentions. Green is an entrepreneur and chairman of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a conservative group that was active in the political campaign cycle.
Hughes is a professional singer and an attorney. The vote on the chairmanship is planned for January, but is not yet scheduled, said party spokesman Tim Buckley.