Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Several express interest in filling Pugh's Senate seat

Two state delegates and one former lawmaker said Wednesday they would like to be considered to replace Democratic mayoral nominee Catherine E. Pugh in the Maryland Senate if she is elected in November.

Pugh, the winner of Tuesday's primary, has represented the 40th District in the Senate since 2007. She is considered all but certain to win the general election because of her party's overwhelming registration advantage over Republicans in the city.


Dels. Barbara A. Robinson and Antonio Hayes, who represent Pugh's district, told The Baltimore Sun they expect to seek the position. So did former Del. Shawn Tarrant, who represented the district until his narrow primary defeat in 2014.

Possibly waiting in the wings is Councilman Nick J. Mosby, who dropped out of the mayoral primary and threw his support behind Pugh. Though political insiders expect him to seek the seat, he declined to say if he is interested.


"I haven't had an opportunity to evaluate that," Mosby said. "My focus, the reason I got out of the race, has been to ensure we are able to put the best foot forward to build a better Baltimore. I knew Senator Pugh would be the one who would be able to unite the city."

Mosby said he has been concentrating on supporting Pugh and serving as a city councilman, a position he holds until December.

Pugh said Wednesday she would not attempt to dictate the selection of her replacement. She noted that the choice will be made by the Democratic State Central Committee for the 40th District.

"Those who are seeking that position should lobby that State Central Committee," Pugh said, adding that members of the seven-member panel "have already begun counting their votes" for potential replacements.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan will formally make the appointment, but he is constitutionally bound to honor the choice of the central committee. He can request that the committee send him another name, but can't substitute his own choice.

At stake is one of Baltimore's six seats in the 47-member Senate. One, the 44th District, is shared with Baltimore County, but Pugh's is entirely within the city lines, sprawling from Park Heights in Northwest Baltimore to Violetville and Morrell Park in the southwest.

The seat is one of two that is likely to need a new senator next year as a result of the primary. Montgomery County Sen. Jamie Raskin, who won the Democratic primary in the 8th Congressional District, will have the advantage in the general election in the Democratic stronghold.

State Democratic leaders generally stay out of the process while hoping the district committees choose an up-and-comer who can hold the seat a long time and build the party's bench strength. State Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller declined through a spokesman to discuss the 40th District seat.


Central committee members are generally little-known officials who nevertheless are party insiders.

If an unpaid committee member can win the support of enough colleagues, he or she can be appointed to a $45,207-a-year part-time job as a Maryland state legislator.

One of the 40th District committee members, Arlene Fisher, said that while she would not seek the Senate seat, she might be interested in serving in the House if one of the district's delegates were chosen.

Political observers agree that if Pugh advocates for a successor, her views would carry weight with the committee. But Fisher said a mayoral recommendation isn't a guarantee.

"She can recommend, but it won't necessarily be a slam-dunk," she said.

Tarrant, who said he's "absolutely interested" in returning to Annapolis, noted that any incoming mayor can exert influence over committee members.


"The mayor would have that option because they're hiring people," he said.

Mosby said he has not reached out to anyone on the committee, nor has he sought support for an appointment. He said he was "flattered" that his name has been mentioned.

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Hayes said he hasn't talked to central committee members about the seat but is "definitely interested in it." While Hayes amassed more votes than his two veteran colleagues in the 2014 Democratic primary, he endorsed Pugh's rival, former Mayor Sheila Dixon, in the mayor's race.

Robinson, who has served in the House since 2007, said she would "most definitely" be interested in the seat but considered the matter "too soon to discuss." The third delegate from that district, Frank Conaway Jr., could not be reached for comment.

Assuming Pugh wins in November, the process would begin when she resigns to move to City Hall in December. Typically the party solicits resumes, and the central committee interviews applicants before making a decision.