Del. Guy Guzzone, a Columbia Democrat, announced Thursday that he will run for Sen. Jim Robey's open Senate seat in 2014.
"Join with me, together we're going to continue to do good things for this community and for the state," Guzzone told a crowd of approximately 250 supporters inside the Ridgely's Run Community Center in Jessup.
Guzzone's annual pizza party fundraiser was attended by notable politicians such as Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, along with numerous state delegates and county council members.
Robey, an Elkridge Democrat, announced in April that he would retire after completing his second term serving District 13 in the Senate.
Guzzone, 49, has represented District 13 as a delegate since 2007. The district is also represented in the House by Democrats Frank Turner and Shane Pendergrass.
Guzzone said it was an "incredibly difficult" decision for him to leave the House in search of a seat in the Senate.
"I have a true love for the House and the people in it," he said. "I was given great opportunities there to do some good things, but in the final analysis it just seemed like this was the best bet."
Guzzone serves as the House chair for the Howard County Delegation. He previously served as a Howard County Council member from 1998 through 2006.
He said he wasn't expecting Robey to retire, but praised the two-term Senator as a true public servant and statesman.
"It's hard to even think about all the years of dedicated service he's put into this county and to this state," Guzzone said.
Robey returned the praise at Thursday's event, saying it is "time to open the door for Guy Guzzone" while urging everyone to support Guzzone.
"He is an outstanding public servant, not a politician, a public servant," Robey said.
After two terms in the House, Guzzone has earned prominent committee assignments, including his appointment this year to chair the public safety and administration subcommittee of the appropriations committee.
There is still a long way to the election, but if elected, Guzzone said he wouldn't feel as if he were starting over after conversations with Senate leadership.
"I think I will have the opportunity to play a very good role there," he said.
Guzzone said he also weighed a run for Howard County Executive, but decided he could better serve the county in Annapolis.
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