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Mix of bustle and excitement for lawmakers moving to Annapolis offices

Ned Carey and his son Pat Carey shifted the desk into position, angling it so that the elder Carey, when sitting, will be looking straight at his door in the House of Delegates' office building in Annapolis.

"I've been preparing for this day," said Carey, a Democratic delegate-elect serving Brooklyn Park. "My parents were going to throw those chairs out, but I said, 'Hold on, I'll take them.'"

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Over the past several days, Carey and other delegates and delegates-elect have moved into offices, a tradition for newly elected officials with the same feel of furnishing your first dorm room. There's the scramble for furniture, choosing where to hang pictures and managing a small budget — about $4,000 a year for supplies, desks and knickknacks.

Delegates and senators aren't the only ones making transitions in Annapolis. On Monday, moving vans backed up to the Governor's Mansion as Martin O'Malley made way for Gov.-elect Larry Hogan.

This year's move has been more hectic than usual for many lawmakers. In the House of Delegates some who weren't re-elected, or who were moved, have been slow to leave their old offices. That creates a domino effect, as re-elected officials can't move into their new space and new delegates can't get into the offices that have yet to be freed up.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch assigns offices to delegates. Making everyone happy isn't always possible, Busch said, but he does the best he can. He acknowledged some departing delegates haven't gotten out on time, and this year's large turnover has complicated matters.

"It is always a rigorous undertaking," Busch said; "58 new delegates presents even greater challenges."

But everyone should be settled by Wednesday's start of the 2015 General Assembly session, he said.

"It's slim pickings for the freshmen," said Del.-elect Brooke Lierman, a Democrat from Baltimore City.

The hunt for furniture became something of a scavenging expedition for Lierman, who trolled the halls with her suitemate,Democratic Del.-elect Shelly Hettleman of Baltimore County, in search of tables and couches.

"I'm happy to report there have been no blood baths over office furniture," Lierman said. "I had a desk, and that was it. The big news today: I got a small round table as well.

"I still have no chairs," she said, "but they tell you that sitting is bad for your health anyway, right?"

Bob Long was one of the lucky newcomers. The freshman Republican from Dundalk was assigned the office of departing Del. Joseph C. Boteler III, a Baltimore County Republican who lost a reelection bid in last year's primary election. Long said Boteler vacated the premises more than a week ago and left them in "pristine" condition.

"All we had to do was dust," said Long, 58."My name's not on the office door [but] my desk is set up and ready to go. … I have everything I need."

Among Long's personal touches is a commemorative brick from the former steel mill at Sparrows Point — a reminder, he said, "of where we've been and where we have to go."

Long said the bustle of moving in doesn't diminish the awe of being in the State House. "It's an honor to be there, knowing George Washington walked on that same marble floor."

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Mark Chang, a Democratic delegate-elect from Glen Burnie, was frustrated he wasn't settled in yet, but said once Wednesday rolls around, it'll be time to get down to business.

"If all I have is a card table and a computer, I'll be ready to rock and roll," Chang said.

Lierman agreed. "I'm more worried about the substantive parts of my job than the furniture part of my job," she said. "I'm preparing to review a budget and make some really hard choices."

Baltimore Sun reporters Erin Cox and Timothy B. Wheeler contributed to this story.

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