Jamie Raskin, a leader of the Maryland Senate's Democratic liberal wing for the past decade, resigned Thursday after his election to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Raskin easily won election in the heavily Democratic 8th congressional district, the bulk of whose voters live in his home county of Montgomery. He will succeed Democrat Chris Van Hollen, another former state senator who won his race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.
In his resignation letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Raskin described the moment as "bittersweet."
"My entire experience of serving in public office has been through the Maryland Senate and its rules, traditions, culture, and people, all of which I love and which have become part of me," Raskin wrote.
His departure leaves a vacancy in the job of Democratic whip. During his 10 legislative sessions in the Senate, Raskin built a reputation as an effective champion of liberal causes who could also build coalitions with more conservative lawmakers.
Among the issues on which he was a leader were marriage equality, repeal of the death penalty, increasing the minimum wage and toughening drunk driving laws.
The job of choosing his replacement is left to the Democratic Central Committee for his 20th District. The governor is required under the Maryland Constitution to appoint the person the committee chooses.
With Raskin's election expected since he won the April primary, several candidates have emerged to succeed him.
Among the leading contenders are Dels. David Moon and Will Smith, both elected in 2014 on a ticket headed by Raskin. Moon would be the second Asian-American to represent Montgomery County in the Senate; Smith would be the first African-American to do so.
Raskin's quick post-election resignation could leave time for the central committee to fill his vacancy before January's legislative session, as well as the House vacancy if it chooses either of the delegates.