Republicans in Maryland House of Delegates pick new leaders

Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates selected new leaders Tuesday, opting for a leadership team from rural areas on opposite sides of the state.

In a closed-door vote following the last day of the annual General Assembly session, the 42 Republicans chose Del. Jason Buckel of Allegany County as minority leader and Del. Christopher Adams of the Eastern Shore as minority whip.


“We are strong, we are a team, and we are ready to do the best job we can do together,” Buckel said in a statement following the vote.

Buckel, 49, is a lawyer who was first elected to the House in 2014, and reelected in 2018. He serves on the Ways and Means Committee, which had a heavy workload this year reviewing the RELIEF Act pandemic aid bill as well as dozens of bills affecting campaigns and elections.


Adams, 48, is president of a carpet company and also was elected to the House in 2014 and reelected four years later. He represents Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico counties, and is on the Economic Matters Committee.

Buckel and Adams replace the leadership duo of Del. Nic Kipke and Del. Kathy Szeliga that had been in place since 2013. Kipke decided to step down as minority leader to focus on upcoming elections in Anne Arundel County. He’s leading an exploratory committee for County Councilwoman Jessica Haire, who is weighing whether to run for county executive.

Szeliga, whose district includes parts of Harford and Baltimore counties, said she wants to spend more time recruiting Republican women to run for office.

They also acknowledged that it’s taxing to represent the wishes of a party that is heavily outnumbered in Annapolis. On major policy issues, Republicans rarely score victories in the General Assembly.

“I wish this new leadership team nothing but success,” Kipke said in a statement. “It can be a tough job, particularly in a chamber where we are outnumbered more than 2-to-1, but it also can be very rewarding.”

The state Senate’s Republicans picked new leaders before the General Assembly session, choosing Sen. Bryan Simonaire of Anne Arundel County as minority leader and Sen. Michael Hough of Frederick County as minority whip.