Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks said Friday she is supporting Del. Dereck Davis to be the next speaker of Maryland’s House of Delegates after the death of long-serving Speaker Michael Busch.
Alsobrooks, who is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, said at a news conference that Davis, also a Prince George’s Democrat, is interested in running — and she will back him.
“As a Prince Georgian, I understand chairman Dereck Davis is a person who is not only interested but is well-prepared to succeed Speaker Busch,” Alsobrooks said. “As the leader of Prince George’s County, I think it would be ideal to have as a presiding officer a person who represents Prince George’s. We do not have in statewide leadership a single Prince Georgian.”
Del. Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat who ran the Maryland House of Delegates floor sessions during Busch’s illness, became this week the first candidate to officially say that she is running for the job of speaker.
Jones, 64, and Davis, 51, are considered to be among three front-runners for the office along with Del. Maggie McIntosh, 71, of Baltimore.
The delegates are expected to choose a new speaker in a special legislative session May 1. A spokesman for the governor said he has not yet formally called for the special session.
McIntosh and Davis declined to comment until after Busch’s funeral Tuesday.
Davis is the chairman of the Economic Matters Committee and has been in the House since 1995.
McIntosh chairs the House Appropriations Committee. She’s been a delegate since 1992.
Jones has been a member of the House since 1997. She’s chairwoman of a subcommittee that handles the budget for state construction projects, putting her in touch with lawmakers around the state who seek support for projects in their districts.
If the eventual speaker is Davis, Jones or McIntosh, the choice would be a historic first because Maryland has only had white men as leaders of its legislative chambers. Davis and Jones are black and McIntosh is openly gay. Also, the House has never had a female speaker.
“To have a person who is fair-minded and balanced and experienced, those are qualities that I know the chairman has,” Alsobrooks said of Davis.
The last time the House faced a similar decision was in 1973, when Speaker Thomas Hunter Lowe was appointed in July to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Delegates selected a new speaker that November, according to state Attorney General Brian Frosh.
The speaker is chosen by a simple majority of members of the House.