Inviting more jokes about the propensity of Maryland GOP to form circular firing squads, the Caroline County Republican Central Committee released a statement Tuesday night criticizing its counterpart in Queen Anne's County for permitting Gov. Martin O'Malley to pick the Upper Shore's next senator.
Caroline Republicans were upset that the Queen Anne's central committee took a new vote in which it threw its support behind Del. Michael Smigiel Sr. of Cecil County to replace former Sen. E. J. Pipkin, who resigned his 36th District seat this summer and moved to Texas.
That move, which formalized a result declared by the chair of the Queen Anne's GOP over the weekend, created a 2-2 tie among the four counties that make up the 36th. The Cecil and Queen Anne's county parties back Smigiel, while the Caroline and Kent parties have endorsed Del. Steve Hershey of Queen Anne's.
Normally, under the state Constitution, the governor must appoint the choice of the local leaders of the departed lawmaker's party. But when multiple central committees deadlock between two candidates, the governor gets to choose between them.
Queen Anne's had previously voted in favor of former state party chairwoman Audrey Scott, who dropped out after failing to win another county. Originally Queen Anne's chairwoman Andi Morony declared Smigiel, the second-place finisher, the winner without a new vote. But on Tuesday, she reversed course, and permitted a new vote in which Smigiel won 4-2-1 over the home county delegate, Morony said.
Morony, who is Smigiel's chief of staff in his legislative office, said she acted after a member of the committee requested a new vote.
Caroline Republicans were not pleased at the tie. Chairman ROB Willoughby released the following statement:
"It is regretful that the members of the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee voted this evening to create a tie in this process and send the decision to Governor O’Malley. Now, a decision that should have been made here in the 36th District will be made instead in Annapolis by a Democratic Governor," the statement said.
Morony said the Queen Anne's party has no plans to reconsider.
"We do not plan on meeting again," she said.
Unless one of the county parties blinks, O'Malley would for the second time get to choose a Republican lawmaker. In 2010, the Frederick and Washington county parties couldn't agree on a replacement for a delegate who resigned, and O'Malley appointed Frederick County's choice.