State Sen. Patrick J. Hogan, an authority on higher education and a strong pro-slots voice in the General Assembly, will resign from the legislature to become head of government relations for the University System of Maryland, he said yesterday.
The move leaves a scramble to fill his Montgomery County Senate seat and the significant possibility that he will be replaced by a Democrat who does not support expanded gambling.
Hogan was a Republican when he was elected in 1994, switched parties and became one of the top lieutenants of Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller. He rose to the vice chairmanship of the powerful Budget and Taxation Committee and is a respected voice on fiscal matters.
University system Chancellor William E. Kirwan said Hogan's dedication to higher education and his experience in government finance make him ideal for the post of vice chancellor for government relations.
"I am confident that P.J.'s deep knowledge of higher education and the budget process, his successful legislative career, and his significant experience on Capitol Hill will serve USM well," Kirwan said in a prepared statement. Hogan will receive a salary of $175,000 a year in the job, officials said.
Hogan, 44, a computer consultant from Montgomery Village, said his work in the Senate has made him a passionate advocate for higher education. He chairs a special committee devoted to evaluating the revenue needs of the state's university system.
"This is an opportunity to devote all my energies and whatever talents I have on higher education and particularly the University System of Maryland," Hogan said. "It's a perfect fit."
Hogan, who worked for former Rep. Constance A. Morella from 1990 to 1994, said he believes the university system can establish a stronger presence on the federal level, both in terms of lobbying for money and trying to influence national higher education policy.
Hogan said he regrets leaving the Senate at a time when his position would have given him a front-row seat to deliberations on fixing Maryland's projected budget shortfall.
Leading contenders for his seat include the three delegates in his district, Charles E. Barkley, Nancy J. King and S. Saqib Ali, all Democrats. Former delegate Gene W. Counihan is also a possible candidate.
The county's Democratic Central Committee will decide on a replacement, to be officially appointed by the governor.
Barkley and Ali are on record as opposing slots. King voted for a slots bill that passed the House of Delegates three years ago, but in a voter's guide for Gazette newspapers said, "I do not support slots as a stand-alone source of revenues."