H. Wayne Norman Jr. has been active in the Harford County Republican Party for most of his adult life but has preferred to work behind the scenes.
That changes this week, when the 52-year-old Bel Air attorney takes a seat in the House of Delegates.
"I like to stay in the background, but this delegate seat was a really unexpected opportunity that I had to take," Norman said.
The Harford County Republican Central Committee chose Norman, one of its members, from among eight candidates last month to fill the District 35A seat.
Committee Chairman Michael Geppi said Norman's qualifications, including deep roots in the county and a business acumen, made him an ideal candidate for the seat that includes northern Harford County.
Norman, twice elected to the central committee after being appointed to it about 10 years ago, replaces Del. Barry Glassman, who was sworn in to the state Senate on Thursday to succeed Sen. J. Robert Hooper. Health considerations forced the three-term senator to resign Dec. 31.
Norman, president-elect of the Harford County Bar Association and a former member of the county's Planning Advisory Board, said he will resign from the central committee and the county Liquor Board before the General Assembly convenes on Wednesday.
He met Thursday with Gov. Martin O'Malley and the House leadership and was expected to be sworn in no later than tomorrow.
"As the newest Republican in a Democratic House, I know I have my work cut out for me," he said, adding that he hopes to serve on the House's environmental committee.
Last week's meeting was his second close encounter with O'Malley, a Democrat who showed up unannounced at Norman's annual Fourth of July bash for county Republicans and sat in with the band.
"I took a lot of flak for that from fellow Republicans, but you certainly have to respect the governor, who is, by the way, a terrific musician," Norman said.
Raised in Glen Arm in Baltimore County, Norman has been a Harford resident since 1977, the year he graduated from the University of Baltimore. He has built strong ties to the agricultural and business communities.
"My district is mostly rural and agricultural," he said. "I would like to be involved in farming issues."
He maintains a law practice on Main Street, overseeing a staff of 10 that includes his wife, Linda. The couple have been married 30 years and have two children.
In addition to farm issues, Norman said, he is interested in legislation to help enhance the quality of life for disabled residents. And as a lifelong collector of sports cars, he also wants to tackle vehicle regulations.
He sees the military expansion at Aberdeen Proving Ground, expected to bring thousands of new jobs and residents to the county, as a major challenge for the legislature.
"Certainly, BRAC and all the infrastructure needed to meet it is critical," Norman said. "I hope to work with the county executive and get us all the funding we are entitled to."