A committee of Democratic officials charged with selecting a replacement for the late Del. Tony E. Fulton was deadlocked last night in a tie vote for two contenders, leaving the decision on replacing the Baltimore legislator in the hands of Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
After two hours of public interviews and at times bitter talks, the committee voted 2-2 - with one member absent - for former City Councilwoman Catherine E. Pugh and Wendell Rawlings, son of the late Del. Howard P. Rawlings.
It was the second time in less than two years that committee has been faced with choosing a new delegate. When Rawlings died in 2003, committee member Wendell Rawlings was rejected as his successor on a 4-1 vote.
At the time, Rawlings questioned the intelligence of his fellow members. "Right now we see a great public disservice," he said before giving himself the only vote he received.
In last night's interviews, committee member Tyrone E. Keys Jr. demanded that Rawlings explain his previous comments.
Rawlings attributed them to overwhelming grief over his father's death. Then he challenged Keys' residency in the 40th District and his right to vote on the committee.
Keys responded by offering to drive the committee by his house during a five-minute recess.
Residents and other candidates in the audience at Baltimore City Community College didn't seem surprised by Rawlings' combative interview, having seen the exchange in 2003.
With a tie vote, the governor will have to choose between Pugh and Rawlings.
Meanwhile, committee Chairman Marshall T. Goodwin said he would consult with Maryland's attorney general today about Rawlings' challenge of Keys' residency and announce any finding at a citywide Democratic Central Committee meeting scheduled tonight at the community college.
The 40th District includes neighborhoods in Central and Northwest Baltimore.