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Politics

Baltimore Del. Talmadge Branch calls it a career as Maryland’s primary filing deadline passes

State Del. Talmadge Branch, majority whip for more than a decade, withdrew his candidacy for another term in office late Friday, about two hours ahead of a deadline for candidates to file to run.

Branch, who has been a member of the House of Delegates since 1995, had filed in February, declaring his intent to seek another term. But the Democratic delegate opted Friday to withdraw. An East Baltimore resident, Branch represented the 45th District, and had served as majority whip in the House since 2007.

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In a news release, Branch called serving in the General Assembly “the greatest privilege of my life.”

“I am gratified and blessed for the opportunity to have worked on behalf of the people of this great state, and to have served the past three years working alongside my daughter,” he said. “I’ve held a front-row seat to Maryland history and I’m extremely thankful.”

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His daughter, Democratic Del. Chanel Branch, holds another of the three 45th District seats. She and fellow incumbent Del. Stephanie Smith, also a Democrat, have filed to run to keep their offices. Also running are Democrats Jackie Addison, George Johnson and Caylin Young.

Republican Antonio Barboza will face the winners of the July 19 primary in the November general election.

Branch, who made an unsuccessful bid for Congress in 2020, has been a mainstay in the House of Delegates, previously leading the Legislative Black Caucus and serving as vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

As majority whip, Branch worked behind the scenes to make sure Democrats passed key bills and overrode gubernatorial vetoes. Branch coordinated more than a dozen deputy whips who worked with him to persuade members to vote with party leaders.

During his campaign to replace the late Democratic U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore in 2020, Branch told The Baltimore Sun he was motivated to push for crime fighting legislation after his 22-year-old grandson, Tyrone Ray, was fatally shot in 2017 outside a convenience store in Northeast Baltimore. Branch argued successfully the next year for $3.6 million to expand the Safe Streets violence prevention program to at least 10 neighborhoods across the city.

Branch said he delayed making his decision to withdraw official, calling it “bittersweet.”

“You kind of know that the time is now, but at the same time you kind of hate to let it go,” he said.

Branch’s late withdrawal stood out Friday amid an otherwise-uneventful filing deadline for state election officials. The deadline, typically in February, was twice delayed amid legal battles over redistricting. The fight also forced the delay of Maryland’s primary from June 28 to July 19.

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On Wednesday, that battle was largely quieted when the Maryland Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to a General Assembly-approved map of state legislative districts. Multiple lawsuits from Republican politicians and voters were unsuccessful in arguing the map violated provisions of the state’s constitution. The ruling allowed the new districts for electing members of the General Assembly to go into effect.

Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland State Board of Elections, said the filing deadline was the quietest he could recall in his tenure. Candidates had extra time to make up their minds on whether to run, he said.

“[The legislative] Session is over. It’s so late this year,” DeMarinis said. “This is by far the slowest and the least festive of them all.”

Still, some straggling candidates made moves Friday. State Del. Jay Jalesi filed to run for state Senate in District 10, which includes a portion of Baltimore County. Incumbent Sen. Delores G. Kelley is retiring.

Jalesi, a Democrat who also ran an unsuccessful campaign for Congress in 2020, was publicly reprimanded by his House of Delegates colleagues in 2019 for “an ongoing pattern of bullying and abusive workplace behavior.”

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Jalesi will face Democratic Del. Ben Brooks; Lawrence Williams, who ran for the position in 2018, and Stephanie Boston, a repeat candidate for the position who most recently lost a bid for the post as a Republican in 2018. Boston is currently a registered Democrat.

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Republican William Newton is running unopposed.

Other candidates formalized their plans earlier in the week. On Thursday, Laura Neuman, the former Republican county executive for Anne Arundel County who launched a potential run for governor of Maryland as a Democrat, decided to drop out of the race. Neuman had announced her intention to run in January, but never filed the paperwork to appear on the ballot. She’s now endorsed Comptroller Peter Franchot for governor.

Neuman’s exit leaves a 10-candidate field of Democrats: former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, Jon Baron of Montgomery County, Franchot, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, Ralph Jaffe of Baltimore County, Ashwani Jain of Montgomery County, former U.S. Education Secretary John B. King, author Wes Moore, former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and Jerome Segal, who had founded the socialist Bread and Roses Party but changed his affiliation to Democrat.

The Republican ticket will list Del. Dan Cox, who represents parts of Carroll and Frederick counties; Robin Ficker of Montgomery County; former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, and Baltimore County resident Joe Werner.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed Thursday for reelection at the city elections office, ahead of her hearing in federal court related to charges of perjury and making false statements. Mosby has pleaded not guilty to the charges and maintains her innocence. Her trial is set for Sept 19.

The Democratic primary is a rematch among Mosby, Ivan Bates and Thiru Vignarajah. Mosby defeated them in 2018 with almost 50% of the vote. No Republicans have entered the race this year.


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