Gov. Martin O'Malley set a special election date yesterday to fill a vacancy left by the departure of Rep. Albert R. Wynn, who is leaving Congress to join a lobbying firm after eight terms.
O'Malley signed emergency legislation that would allow the state to hold the special election and said that he will issue a proclamation setting the date on June 17. Late last month, Wynn announced his departure from office in June, and the General Assembly quickly drafted and passed legislation permitting the state to skip a special primary -- giving the central committees of each party the power to choose nominees.
Donna Edwards, who defeated Wynn in the Democratic primary in February, and Peter James, who won the Republican primary, are likely to be nominated. Without the special election, the seat would remain empty until after the two candidates face off in the November general election and one takes office in January.
"Every citizen of our country deserves to be represented in national government, in the halls of Congress," O'Malley said.
Wynn's resignation drew criticism from fellow Democrats, partly because of the anticipated cost to hold special elections. O'Malley said that by eliminating a special primary, the state would save about $1 million.
Edwards is the favorite to win in the district, which includes parts of Montgomery and Prince George's counties and where Democrats outnumber Republicans more than 5-to-1. Annapolis politicians said that if she does win the June contest, she would have more time to establish herself in Washington and would gain an edge in House seniority over those freshmen elected in November.