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Fresh faces of power in Annapolis in the 2019 Maryland General Assembly session

With the start of a new General Assembly session Wednesday in Annapolis, there’s been turnover in leadership positions, allowing fresh faces an opportunity to take power in the state capital.

Meet some of the ascendant players in Maryland government and politics.

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Vanessa Atterbeary

Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, vice chairwoman of the state House Judiciary Committee, on Sept. 4, 2018.
Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, vice chairwoman of the state House Judiciary Committee, on Sept. 4, 2018. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

Howard County’s Vanessa Atterbeary is the vice chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee.

The 43-year-old Atterbeary represents a younger, more progressive group of Democratic lawmakers. And she’s rising fast, scoring the vice chair post in her second term in office.

She’s successfully championed legislation that makes it easier to convict serial rapists and requires domestic abusers to surrender their guns.

Jazz Lewis

Del. Jazz Lewis
Del. Jazz Lewis (Handout / Baltimore Sun)

It hasn’t taken Jazz Lewis long to start climbing the leadership ranks in the House of Delegates.

The Democrat from Prince George’s County was appointed to his position in early 2017 and won election in his own right this year.

House Speaker Michael Busch has appointed Lewis vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus — a sign that the veteran speaker has faith in the 29-year-old lawmaker.

Lewis is executive director of U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer’s campaign office.

Kelly Schulz

Gov. Larry Hogan, left, during a news conference Nov. 28, 2017 in Annapolis, Maryland. Then-Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Kelly Schulz is standing next to Hogan. State Secretary of Commerce Michael Gill is standing right.
Gov. Larry Hogan, left, during a news conference Nov. 28, 2017 in Annapolis, Maryland. Then-Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Kelly Schulz is standing next to Hogan. State Secretary of Commerce Michael Gill is standing right. (Brian Witte / AP)

The former Republican delegate just won a big promotion from Gov. Larry Hogan, who moved her last month from secretary of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to state commerce secretary.

The gig at the commerce agency is much higher-profile, allowing Schulz, 50, the opportunity to weigh in on business-related legislation and to travel the state to celebrate companies’ openings and expansions.

Schulz’s predecessor, Mike Gill, was perhaps the most popular member of Hogan’s cabinet, liked by Republicans and Democrats alike.

Luke Clippinger

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Then-Delegate Luke Clippenger after getting a chance to speak his voice about a bill in 2011.
Then-Delegate Luke Clippenger after getting a chance to speak his voice about a bill in 2011. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore Democrat takes over chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee, which handles issues related to crime, as well as police reform.

For decades, chairman Joseph Vallario exerted tight control over the committee, sometimes shelving bills he didn’t like for years on end. Vallario, an 81-year-old defense attorney, lost his re-election bid last year. That paved the way for a generational change.

Clippinger, 46, is a prosecutor in Anne Arundel County. He’s successfully championed progressive initiatives, such as requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to workers.

Mary Beth Carozza

Then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich's top-level staff chat with their boss in his office in 2003. Left to right around Ehrlich: Deputy Chief of Staff Mary Beth Carozza, Chief of Staff Steven Keseski, Deputy Chief of Staff Ed McDonald.
Then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich's top-level staff chat with their boss in his office in 2003. Left to right around Ehrlich: Deputy Chief of Staff Mary Beth Carozza, Chief of Staff Steven Keseski, Deputy Chief of Staff Ed McDonald. (BARBARA HADDOCK TAYLOR / The Baltimore Sun)

The Eastern Shore Republican succeeded in knocking off Sen. Jim Mathias, a longtime Democratic politician and former mayor of Ocean City.

Carozza, 57, spent just one term in the House before making the jump to the Senate, arguing to her increasingly conservative voters that she’d be the better choice than Mathias.

While she’s relatively new to legislative office, Carozza has a history in Annapolis and in Washington. She was a deputy chief of staff to Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich. Before that, she was deputy assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs, based at the Pentagon. Carozza also served as a press secretary and chief of staff to Republican members of Congress.

She’s one of only two Republican women in the state Senate — the other is Adelaide Eckardt, also from the shore — giving Carozza a potentially important voice within the party.

Cory McCray

Sen. Cory McCray, a Baltimore Democrat, on Nov. 30, 2018.
Sen. Cory McCray, a Baltimore Democrat, on Nov. 30, 2018. (Mike Dresser / Baltimore Sun)

Another legislator rising through the ranks is Cory McCray.

The 36-year-old Baltimore Democrat accomplished two feats in 2018. First, he knocked off longtime Sen. Nathaniel McFadden in the Democratic primary to win a seat in the Senate, after having served one term in the state House. Then, McCray was elected vice chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, giving him influence over the direction of the state party.

He also has a seat on the influential Senate Budget & Taxation Committee. That committee’s vice chairman is fellow Baltimorean, Sen. Bill Ferguson — giving the two young lawmakers a chance to go to bat to get funding for the city’s many needs.

Chris West

Democrat Robbie Leonard, left, poses with his Republican opponent Chris West at the Towson University Early Voting Center during their race for District 42's state senate seat on Nov. 1, 2018.
Democrat Robbie Leonard, left, poses with his Republican opponent Chris West at the Towson University Early Voting Center during their race for District 42's state senate seat on Nov. 1, 2018. (Courtesy Photo / Chris West)

Like Carozza, West was able to jump from the House of Delegates to the state Senate after one term in the lower chamber, taking a Democrat’s seat.

West’s district includes central and northern Baltimore County and was held for years by Jim Brochin, who made a name for himself with an independent streak that often rankled his own party’s leadership.

In his time in the House, West, 68, demonstrated an ability to work across party lines on issues such as health insurance and criminal justice reform.

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