Del. Ted Sophocleus died on Friday, but he could still win the House of Delegates District 32 Democratic primary.
Sophocleus, who served in the House of Delegates since 1993, died Friday after being hospitalized in Baltimore. But the veteran lawmaker’s name will still appear on primary election ballots along with six other Democrats competing to represent District 32.
It’s far too late to reprint ballots to remove Sophocleus’ name, said Maryland Board of Elections officials. Early voting starts Thursday.
There are likely 10,000 absentee ballots already printed with Sophocleus’ name, said Donna Duncan, assistant deputy administrator of election policy.
Maryland law also requires the state to send ballots to service members ahead of the primary.
His District 32 colleague Del. Pamela Beidle said constituents have told her they still plan to vote for Sophocleus, as they always have, to honor his service. Beidle is running for State Senate in District 32.
“If people vote for Del. Sophocleus, it would be strictly in deference to him and his hard work,” Beidle said, and not because they are uninformed about his death.
If Sophocleus wins a statistical victory, the Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee would choose a candidate to replace him in the general election, Duncan said. The replacement can be a registered candidate or anyone else the committee deems qualified. The committee is taking applications until June 19. Those resumes and letters of interest can be sent to email@example.com. The committee will interview those interested on June 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Waugh Chapel Community Center. The name of the person selected will be sent to the Governor to fill out the rest of Sophocleus term through January 8, 2019.
At a District 32 picnic Sunday, officials encouraged voters to memorialize Sophocleus on the ballot, Beidle said. She said she encouraged voters to do so if they wanted to pay tribute.
At a meeting Tuesday with The Capital editorial board, Democratic candidates for one of the three District 32 seats remembered Sophocleus as a great source of wisdom and experience who counseled their own candidacies.
“Ted, he was an example of what a public servant should be,” said Del. Mark Chang, who was running on a ticket with Sophocleus. “He put the community first. He put the people he represented first.”
Chang and Sandy Bartlett, who was also on his ticket, called Sopholeus’ death a loss.
“It’s a loss of experience. It’s a loss of wisdom. It's a loss of a go-to person who has a historic knowledge of serving in the House of Delegates and other capacities,” Bartlett said.
The other candidates — Michael Rogers, Patrick Armstrong and Derek Kent — said voters would determine how Sophocleus’ death affects the race.
Regardless of the outcome, two of the three seats “are guaranteed to now change,” Kent said. “It’s a tremendous burden on voters to pay even closer attention than they normally do to this election.”
The Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee will start conducting interviews with those interested in running in the general should Sophocleus win, Chairwoman Christine Davenport said.
Even registered candidates will have to interview with the committee if they want to be considered. Those interested should send a resume and letter of interest to the Committee, Davenport said.
“We hate that we have to do it, but we have to move on and try to find someone to replace him in the next 10 days,” Davenport said.
Ted Sophocleus funeral services
Ted Sophocleus' family will receive visitors at Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services, 1 2nd Ave. SW in Glen Burnie, from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday. Sophocleus will Lie-in-State from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Friday at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, 24 W. Preston St. in Baltimore, followed by a funeral service. Interment is at Greek Orthodox Cemetery in Woodlawn. Memorial donations can be made to Opportunity Builders Inc., 8855 Veterans Highway, Millersville, MD 21108.