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Democrats have selected Baltimore Sen. Bill Ferguson, right, to replace longtime Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, left, who is stepping down from his post, announced at a news conference in Annapolis.
Democrats have selected Baltimore Sen. Bill Ferguson, right, to replace longtime Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, left, who is stepping down from his post, announced at a news conference in Annapolis. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette)

Bill Ferguson was unanimously selected by Maryland’s Democratic senators as their nominee for the next Senate president. He is expected to succeed longtime Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., who is battling cancer and stepping down as president, when the General Assembly convenes its next session in January.

Here are four things to know about Ferguson.

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He’s had a career in education.

Ferguson’s day job is at the Johns Hopkins University, where he’s the director of reform initiatives in the School of Education.

He previously was a special assistant to prior Baltimore City Schools CEO Andrés Alonso.

And he spent two years teaching high school social studies at the Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy through the Teach for America program.

He holds a master’s degree in teaching from Johns Hopkins.

Ferguson has put his education knowledge to work as a member of the Kirwan Commission, a state panel that has recommended increased spending on public school needs such as expanded prekindergarten, increased support for schools in impoverished areas and improved teacher pay.

Bill Ferguson was elected to the Maryland state Senate in 2010.
Bill Ferguson was elected to the Maryland state Senate in 2010. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette)

He’s a lawyer, too.

Ferguson graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law in 2010, earning magna cum laude honors and playing third base on the Maryland Law softball team, according to his resume.

While in law school, Ferguson interned with the city school system and was a summer associate with the Venable law firm.

He beat a longtime incumbent to win his seat.

Ferguson was elected to the Senate in 2010 by knocking off longtime Sen. George W. Della Jr. in an intense primary race.

Della had been in the Senate since 1982 — one year before Ferguson was born.

Della had alleged that Ferguson was in the pocket of Baltimore developer Patrick Turner, while Ferguson sent out mailers showing that Della improperly received the Homestead Property Tax Credit on two homes.

One voter told The Baltimore Sun: “I think they were both crazy. I’m unimpressed with their negative campaigning."

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Ferguson won the Democratic primary over Della, 59 percent to 41 percent. He ran unopposed in the general election.

After announcing in Annapolis that he is stepping down from his post, longtime Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller shakes hands with Baltimore Sen. Bill Ferguson, selected by Democrats to replace him.
After announcing in Annapolis that he is stepping down from his post, longtime Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller shakes hands with Baltimore Sen. Bill Ferguson, selected by Democrats to replace him. (Joshua McKerrow/Capital Gazette)

He had a rapid rise to the top.

Ten years ago, Ferguson was just a hopeful future politician. Now he soon will hold one of Maryland’s most important political positions.

After his victory in 2010, Ferguson quickly rose through the ranks of the Senate, despite being the chamber’s youngest member for most of that time. (He passed a ceremonial “Baby Senator” trophy this year to freshman Sen. Sarah Elfreth, who is now 31. Ferguson is 36.)

Ferguson became vice chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. He also spent two years chairing the Executive Nominations Committee, which reviews all of Gov. Larry Hogan’s key appointments.

After Miller announced that he was being treated for metastatic prostate cancer this year, several more experienced senators started campaigning behind the scenes for the top job.

Ferguson emerged as a contender only in the week before the vote on Miller’s successor, securing support from some of his rivals.

In the end, he was unanimously supported by the Democratic senators to succeed Miller, which all but assures his election in January in the majority Democrat body.

Baltimore Sen. Bill Ferguson has been a Democratic state senator since 2011, representing the 46th District in the city of Baltimore.
Baltimore Sen. Bill Ferguson has been a Democratic state senator since 2011, representing the 46th District in the city of Baltimore. (Joshua McKerrow/Baltimore Sun Media)

Bill Ferguson at a glance

Age: 36

Political position: Democratic state senator since 2011, representing the 46th District in the city of Baltimore; vice chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee; member of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education, also known as the Kirwan Commission; member of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Funding Formula Work Group.

Day job: Director of reform initiatives, Johns Hopkins University School of Education, 2012-present.

Experience: Attorney since 2011; special assistant to the CEO of the Baltimore City Public Schools, 2009-2010; teacher with Teach for America, 2005-2007; community liaison in the Baltimore City Council president’s office, 2005-2006.

Salary: $50,330 as a senator. The Senate president receives $65,371 a year.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science and economics, Davidson College, 2005; master of arts in teaching social studies in high school, Johns Hopkins, 2007; law degree, University of Maryland School of Law, 2010.

Family: Wife, two children.

Religion: Member, St. Casimir Catholic Church in Canton in Southeast Baltimore.

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