With the unexpected death of his wife, Dana L. Dembrow said he had second thoughts about running for the Carroll County Board of Commissioners and withdrew from the race last week.
He said he wanted to spend more time with his two daughters, but he never planned to leave the political domain.
Instead, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s administration has tapped the former Montgomery County delegate, who lives in Sykesville, for the Maryland Board of Contract Appeals.
The board is a three-member panel in Baltimore that reviews disputes arising from protests in state procurement bidding.
Dembrow, a Democrat, was sworn in Wednesday to fill the seat held by John S. Arnick, the longtime delegate from Dundalk, who died last month.
Michael W. Burns, chairman of the Board of Contract Appeals, described the board as a quasi-judicial administrative agency, akin to the Workers' Compensation Commission and the Public Service Commission.
The board hears all contract disputes in which the state is a party.
"We're pseudo judges-that's the best way to put it," said Burns, a former Republican delegate from Anne Arundel County, who served on the House Judiciary committee with Dembrow.
Dembrow has an interim position until the Senate confirms his appointment in its next session. It's a full-time job with a salary of about $100,000, Dembrow said.
In Carroll County, Dembrow made news this spring as a party in the county's redistricting lawsuit.
He argued before the state's highest court in June that five commissioner districts should be established, based on the Option Two map favored by the current commissioners and the mayors of the county's eight municipalities. Carroll's all-Republican state delegation favored a different map, known as Option One.
Sen. Larry E. Haines, the leader of Carroll's delegation, said he approved of Ehrlich's "non-partisan" appointment.
Dembrow dropped by the senator's office at Haines Realty recently with his two daughters, seeking the legislator's blessing, Haines said.
"Dana's a qualified individual," Haines said. "Democrats have created a witch hunt, by saying that the governor replaced a number of Democrats with Republicans when he took office. His leadership shows he works to cooperate with both sides of the aisle."
Haines added, "Some Republicans might think he's too generous with Democrats."
Dembrow's appointment makes the three-member Board of Contract Appeals majority Democratic. The third member is Michael J. Collins, a former Democratic senator from Baltimore County.