Members of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee voted 5-4 Thursday to submit three names for their second open state legislative seat at the request of officials from Gov. Larry Hogan's administration. They did not, however, reconsider former County Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier's nomination for Sen. Joe Getty's seat.
Officials from Hogan's administration said at the meeting that the Office of Appointments is planning on sending a letter to every central committee with the responsibility of recommending candidates for vacant legislative seats.
The letters, they said, will request the committees submit multiple names for each position.
Several members of the Carroll committee and many of the roughly 40 members of the public in attendance Thursday expressed dissatisfaction with the new governor's request. The meeting took place amid criticism from some Carroll residents regarding the committee's process in choosing Frazier.
"We designed our process to be in line with the governor's wishes," said Committee member Kathy Fuller. "If he had asked for three names in the beginning, it wouldn't have been a problem, and we wouldn't be having this conversation."
Steve Crim, campaign manager for Hogan, said during Thursday's meeting that there is precedent for requesting three names, beginning with Gov. Parris Glendening's administration from 1995-2003. Crim said that after Glendening's election, a Democratic central committee did not submit multiple names despite the governor-elect's requesting three. The dispute ended up in court, Crim said, and the judge sided with Glendening.
"We would like to have options on the table, and we are requesting this from other committees as well," he said.
Despite outrage from those in attendance, and against the opposition from several committee members, the Carroll committee passed a motion 5-4 to submit three names for the open delegate seat in District 4.
Fuller voted against the motion to recommend three names and said it was a violation of the committee's bylaws and should not be allowed.
Del. Kelly Schulz, R-District 4, was appointed as Hogan's secretary of labor in December. District 4 comprises parts from both Carroll and Frederick counties.
The three names the Carroll committee will submit are Barrie Ciliberti, who was also nominated by the Frederick County Republican Central Committee; Jason Miller, who had entertained the idea of running for the Senate seat in District 4; and Ken Timmerman, who has run several unsuccessful campaigns for both U.S. senator and as the 2012 Republican nominee for the newly redrawn congressional District 8.
Ciliberti received three votes; Miller received five; and Timmerman got votes from all nine members of the Carroll committee.
They did not, however, vote to change their recommendation process, or their recommendation of Frazier, for the Senate seat in District 5.
Getty was appointed as Hogan's chief legislative officer in December, but as of 6:30 p.m. Thursday, he had not resigned as senator.
The governor's office said this afternoon that Getty had decided to stay in the Senate for a while longer to finish some initiatives.
Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings of Baltimore County said he still expects Getty to join the administration but knows he still has some local bills pending that he's very interested in.
Jennings said it would be the Senate's gain if the well-respected Getty decided to stay. But the minority leader said he's staying out of the Carroll County conflict and would welcome whoever the governor appoints to the Republican caucus.
Several speakers during the meeting argued that Hogan's request violated the state constitution.
They cited Article 3, Section 13 of the Maryland Constitution, which reads, "the Governor shall appoint a person to fill such vacancy from a person whose name shall be submitted to him in writing … by the Central Committee of the political party."
Additionally, Article 8 of the Maryland Constitution's Declaration of Rights states "the Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers of Government ought to be forever separate and distinct from each other; and no person exercising the functions of one of said Departments shall assume or discharge the duties of any other."
Chris Cavey, deputy director of the Office of Appointments, said the office's staff will also conduct interviews with all of the state committees' recommendations if they feel they were not fully vetted.
Fuller said such action usurps the power of the central committees and violates both previously stated articles of the state's constitution.
"Our authority is to vet the candidates to be submitted for these vacant positions, not the governor," she said. "I want to know why the head of our party is not protecting the sanctity of the constitution and our authority in this?"
Crim said the phrase "the Governor shall appoint" from Article 3, Section 13, is the most important part of that excerpt, and that Hogan will ultimately make the decision.
Jim Reter, another member of the Carroll committee, said that whoever is selected to replace these vacant seats will be representing the people of their district, not the governor.
Amy Gilford, a member of the committee, agreed with Fuller and said if the governor refuses to accept the committee's one recommendation, it renders the central committee meaningless.
"If we relinquish our power to vet the candidates, then why even go through the process?" Gilford said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Michael Dresser contributed to this article.
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Reach staff writer Wiley Hayes at 410-857-3315 or firstname.lastname@example.org.