A battle for Republican political primacy in the legislative district that includes Annapolis Tuesday as Del. Herb McMillan accused a rival of "jumping the gun . . . and the shark" with his early entry into the 2018 state Senate race.
McMillan, who currently represents District 30 in Annapolis, criticized former House colleague Ron George for "announcing a Senate candidacy in a district [he doesn't] even live in" 3 1/2 years before the election. George was drawn out of the 30th in the last redistricting but he has said he would move back.
George, who left his District 30 seat to run for the Republican nomination for governor in last year's GOP primary, announced two weeks ago that he would seek the District 30 Senate seat now held by veteran Democratic Sen. John C. Astle.
At his announcement, George was flanked by many members of the Anne Arundel County GOP establishment who are not enthusiastic fans of McMillan -- considered another potential challenger to Astle.
On Tuesday, McMillan struck back at his "friend" George. He released a statement saying that neither George nor his supporters informed him of their plans before the announcement. And he sought to identify himself with Gov. Larry Hogan's call for a bipartisan approach to governing.
"There will be time enough for politics in 2018." McMillan said. "It would be hypocritical and counterproductive for me to jeopardize our ability to work with Senator Astle by announcing a candidacy for his seat. Therefore, my focus will remain on policy, not partisanship, and doing the job I was elected to do, not just using it as a political stepping stone."
While keeping his options open until late 2017, McMillan reminded Republicans that Hogan made a late entry into the race for governor. "He certainly provided to be worth the wait," McMillan said. Meanwhile, he said, most of the politicians who endorsed George two weeks ago also backed him over Hogan.
George said the early start was necessary to raise enough money and knock on enough doors to compete with Astle, a survivor of several close elections.
The former delegate pointed out that he continued to represent District 30 until January.
George said Tuesday night that he had informed McMillan of his plans a week before the announcement.
"I consider Herb a friend, too," George said. "I'm sorry it got under his skin."