Del. Curt Anderson, under investigation amid allegations of sexual misconduct, is facing mounting calls to decline the nomination for re-election that he narrowly won in June’s primary.
Some of the Baltimore Democrat’s 43rd District constituents are urging party leaders to join their calls for Anderson to resign and drop his candidacy unless the General Assembly’s ethics committee clears him in the next few weeks. The deadline for Anderson to decline the nomination and take his name off the November ballot is Aug. 28, but Democratic activists want a resolution before then so the party can replace him on the ballot.
Among those who want Anderson to step aside are members of the 43rd District Democratic Central Committee, which would choose a replacement.
Angie Winder, a newly elected committee member, said constituents have approached her to say they feel uneasy about Anderson remaining a delegate, given the allegations, which range from inappropriate comments to sexual assault.
“I don’t think he would be very effective because I think it will be a distraction,” said Winder.
Anderson did not respond to messages seeking comment for this article. He has previously denied the allegations.
The veteran delegate won his party’s nomination by finishing third in the primary for one of the district’s three seats in the state House of Delegates. The other two nominations were won by Del. Maggie McIntosh, the House Appropriations Committee chair, and Regina T. Boyce. Anderson won the third spot by 431 votes.
The Baltimore Sun reported the existence of the ethics committee’s investigation June 15 and described the allegations against him.
Five women — three lawmakers and two former staff members — told The Sun of alleged sexual misbehavior by Anderson, ranging from an alleged sexual assault 14 years ago to an unwanted kiss and inappropriate comments about women’s appearance.
Anderson, 68, has chaired the Baltimore House delegation for the past 14 years.
The article appeared two days into Maryland’s eight-day early voting period. Anderson finished second in early voting but nearly lost as he finished a distant third on Election Day, June 26. There are no Republican candidates in the 43rd, but there is a Green Party candidate on the ballot.
Opponents of Anderson’s continued candidacy have written to House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and others, urging them to speed up the ethics committee investigation into the delegate’s conduct.
Wyman Park resident Monisha Cherayil hopes that Anderson won’t try to ride out the controversy.
“If these allegations are substantiated, it will certainly be a public humiliation for him and also the city he represents,” Cherayil said.
Members of the volunteer group Baltimore Women United are planning a protest at the Democratic State Central Committee’s Aug. 4 meeting in Lanham.
Odette Ramos, co-chairman of the group and a 43rd District committee member, said the purpose is to “pressure the party to do better about sexual harassment.”
“We believe the women, and we want quick action,” Ramos said. She said many voters she’s talked to “don’t really want to vote for somebody who may not be eligible to serve and who has been accused of doing those things.”
Anderson can’t be forced to give up his spot on the ballot, but if he wins, he could face disciplinary action up to expulsion if the ethics committee finds that the allegations are true.
Among those hoping to be at the protest is Alexandra Neuhaus-Follini, a Charles Village resident and staunch Democrat. She said she found the allegations in The Sun “numerous, serious and credible.”
“If the ethics committee can’t clear him in the next two weeks, he should probably step aside for the good of the party.”
Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Kathleen Matthews said she’s aware of the plan for a protest at the state committee meeting. She said in an email to committee members that the party has “no plans to campaign with or for” Anderson this year but did not call for him to decline the nomination.
“After speaking to several Democratic women legislators, they have asked us to allow the new process created in the 2018 legislative session for investigating sexual harassment allegations to proceed through the Ethics Committee towards a fair and public conclusion.” Matthews wrote.
Alex Garcia, a member of the 43rd District committee, said he tried to offer a motion calling for Anderson to step down at a recent meeting of the Baltimore Democratic Central Committee but was ruled out of order. Now he says he and others will raise the issue at the state central committee meeting Aug. 4.
“There are a lot of people in the Democratic Party who feel it’s important to practice what we preach,” he said.
McIntosh and Boyce could not be reached for commentl. The two ran as a team in the primary on a slate that did not include Anderson.
Del. Mary Washington, who upset 43rd District Sen. Joan Carter Conway in the primary, has been the most outspoken in the delegation in distancing herself from Anderson. She said Friday that he will not have her endorsement.
Washington said she has tried to reach Anderson by phone and email since the primary but he has not returned her messages. She did not call for him to step down but said it’s time for him to address the allegations.
“I would call for a statement from him,” she said.