Catonsville area delegate plans to run for senate

Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam, a Democrat who currently represents District 10 that includes Catonsville, announced last week that she plans to run for the state Senate in the newly configured District 44.

The current District 44 Senate seat is held by state Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell, also a Democrat.

Nathan-Pulliam, first elected to the House of Delegates in 1994, said that, "after much deliberation and prayer," she had filed the paperwork April 9 to run for the Senate in 2014.

The next primary election, scheduled for June 24, 2014, will reflect new district boundaries passed by the General Assembly in 2012. Those parts of Catonsville now in District 10 and the western part of Catonsville now in District 12 will become District 44B, the Baltimore County portion of District 44. District 44A will include the western part of Baltimore City.

"I saw the numbers and saw that I still had the greatest part of the district and that I would be just as comfortable running that," said Nathan-Pulliam, deputy majority whip in the House.

Nathan-Pulliam lives just south of Dogwood Road, which is the northern boundary between District 44B and District 10.

There are more than 78,000 county residents in District 44B and just over 39,000 city residents in District 44A. The senator for District 44 will represent both constituencies.

State Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, who will lose part of District 12 to District 44B, also has a constituency the includes two different political jurisdictions. District 12 includes Howard County residents in District 12B and predominantly Baltimore County residents of District 12A that includes Catonsville and Arbutus.

Kasemeyer noted that both candidates will find it difficult to get to know their new constituents once redistricting takes effect.

"They both face similar phenomena of having to present themselves to constituencies that don't really know them well," Kasemeyer said.

"It is a challenge. Everybody's who's been redistricted sort of finds themselves in that situation," he said.

He said he would not comment on whom he thought would win in 2014.

Kasemeyer said he was not surprised to hear Nathan-Pulliam planned to run for the Senate, but added that a Senate race is tougher than a run for the House of Delegates.

"Not that it's true, but most people see the Senate as the upper of the House and so I think she needs to make people feel that she has the qualities (to succeed there)," Kasemeyer said.

"Obviously, she thinks this is an opportunity that's being presented to her," he said.

"I'm sure Jones-Rodwell will feel just the same about maintaining her position," Kasemeyer said.

Jones-Rodwell confirmed that opinion in a phone interview Monday. She said she will definitely run for the Senate position in 2014 and that she views running against Nathan-Pulliam as a challenge.

"I don't think it's going to be a cakewalk for anybody," Jones-Rodwell said.

"Somebody will win the Senate seat, I just have faith in God that the person whoever gets in there will be the best person to represent the district," she said.

She said that she will make every effort to get to know voters in the county as well as the city in order to maximize her chances of upholding her position.

"We run an aggressive field campaign," Jones-Rodwell said.

"I do whatever I have to do to win, to get people to know me," she said.

"I'm competitive. I'm a competitive candidate. This isn't like she's going to be able to walk in and assume this position. She's going to have to win it," Jones-Rodwell said.

Nathan-Pulliam is confident in her abilities and said she will continue to focus on the same issues she has supported for many years.

"I will continue to work on the environment, on health, on the economic development, the public safety, Just the same issues that I have been working on all along. I don't see any reason for me to change," Nathan-Pulliam said.

Those particular issues accounted for what she considered the highs and lows of the 2013 Maryland General Assembly.

The Firearms Safety Act of 2013 was a big plus, she said, because of the protection it will provide citizens in the future, she said.

"At the end I was happy to see what we got and that we have in there one of the strongest gun control laws in the nation," Nathan-Pulliam said.

She said she heeded her constituents when casting her vote for the bill to increase gas taxes in Maryland.

"People, particularly in Catonsville, sent me a large number of letters telling me not to vote for it," Nathan-Pulliam said.

"That kept me up trying to decide what to do," she said.

Nathan-Pulliam said that was the hardest piece of legislation on which she voted during the 2013 session.

"I was very comfortable casting the votes for all the other major issues," she said.

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