Maryland comptroller, attorney general vacancies will now be handled differently

The way two statewide elected officials are replaced has changed.

Vacancies in the offices of Maryland comptroller and attorney general will be filled by members of the last party to win election for those offices under a state constitutional amendment approved by voters Tuesday.

The measure was the only statewide ballot question this year.

The amendment called for vacancies that occur in those two state offices to be filled in a way that's similar to the method for replacing delegates and senators who leave their General Assembly seats before their terms expire.

If the vacancy occurs early enough in the comptroller's or attorney general's term, the central committee of that official's party will choose a replacement. The governor will be required to appoint that person, just as the chief executive must with legislative vacancies.

The replacement will then have to run in a special election in the presidential election year.

If the vacancy occurs too late for the position to go on the presidential year ballot, the replacement will serve out their predecessor's four-year term.

Under current law, the governor had unlimited authority to choose a replacement for either position.

The measure was proposed by Democratic lawmakers and passed both houses of the General Assembly along party lines.

The state GOP opposed the amendment because it saw it as an attempt by Democrats to prevent Gov. Larry Hogan from naming a Republican to either post if it were to become vacant on his watch. However, the party did not make it a priority to oppose the measure.

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