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Politics

New faces, voices headed to Annapolis in 2023; House leadership positions up for grabs

Promotions, retirements and voters’ decisions will bring shake-ups to the State House in Annapolis in January beyond Maryland’s top statewide positions of governor, attorney general and comptroller.

And while Democrats in the General Assembly may find an ally in Gov.-elect Wes Moore, those in the House will need to seek out a new majority leader and majority whip — two key posts in the chamber.

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Moore announced last week that he has tapped House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke to serve as the chief legislative officer on his leadership team. Luedtke will resign Jan. 2.

That vacancy and another left by Baltimore Del. Talmadge Branch, the House majority whip, will leave both Democratic House leadership positions up for grabs. Branch announced he would not run for reelection at the end of the 2022 legislative session.

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Luedtke, who represents Montgomery County, has served as the majority leader for four years. Branch has been the majority whip since 2007. Whips help party leaders count and keep supporters in line ahead of key votes.

Representatives for House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and the House Democratic Caucus chair declined to comment on potential replacements for both positions.

Luedtke represents District 14, which includes Olney, Laytonsville and Cloverly. He and fellow incumbent Democrats Anne Kaiser and Pam Queen were reelected earlier this month. Upon Luedtke’s resignation, the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will nominate his replacement, who will be appointed by outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican.

Branch represented Baltimore’s District 45, which encompasses Hamilton, Gardenville, Armistead Gardens and other neighborhoods. That area will now be represented by Caylin Young, Jackie Addison and incumbent Del. Stephanie Smith, all of whom are Democrats.

The House’s minority party also will need a new second-in-command.

While House Minority Leader Jason Buckel ran unopposed in Allegany County, Del. Haven Shoemaker, who was the minority party’s second-in-command, gave up his seat to run successfully for Carroll County state’s attorney.

Shoemaker represented Carroll County’s District 5, which includes Eldersburg, Marston and Westminster. That area will be represented by Chris Tomlinson, Christopher Eric Bouchat and incumbent Del. April Rose, all of whom are Republicans.

Leadership positions for both parties are open for election at the start of every legislative session.

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Retirements among tenured committee chairs also left holes to fill in the 141-person House chamber.

Jones appointed Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk, who represents Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, to chair the House Government and Health Operations Committee, after Howard County Del. Shane Pendergrass’s announcement that she would be retiring after 27 years in the legislature.

Similarly, Jones named Del. Ben Barnes, also of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, as the replacement for House Appropriations Committee Chair Maggie McIntosh, who is resigning from the General Assembly after 30 years.

Pendergrass represents District 13, which encompasses Maple Lawn, Oakland Mills and Savage. That area will be represented by Pam Lanman Guzzone — Senate Finance Committee Chair Guy Guzzone’s ex-wife — House Ways and Means Committee Chair Vanessa Atterbeary and incumbent Del. Jen Terrasa, all of whom are Democrats. McIntosh represents District 43, which includes Baltimore’s Waverly, Kenilworth Park and Ramblewood neighborhoods. That area will be represented by Elizabeth Embry and incumbent Del. Regina Boyce, both Democrats.

The chairs of all other key House committees were reelected.

Another notable change in the House: Del. Brenda Thiam, a representative of Hagerstown and the first Black woman to serve as a member of the chamber’s Republican Party, was defeated by Democrat Brooke Grossman.

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Upcoming Senate changes for 2023

The Senate also saw a series of departures at the end of the 2022 legislative session, including two of its most-revered octogenarians and leaders, Delores Kelley, who chaired the Finance Committee, and Ron Young, the chair of the Executive Nominations Committee.

Del. Benjamin Brooks will replace Kelley as the representative of District 10 in Baltimore County, which includes Reisterstown and Randallstown. Kelley served in the General Assembly for 27 years. Young, who served for 11 years, will be replaced by his wife, Del. Karen Lewis-Young, representing Frederick City in the Senate.

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Senate President Bill Ferguson has yet to appoint new chairs to replace Kelley and Young.

Sen. George Edwards, a Republican representing District 1, which includes Cumberland, Oakland and other areas in Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties, will be replaced by Republican Del. Mike McKay. Prince George’s County Sen. Obie Patterson, a Democrat who represents Oxon Hill, Fort Washington and other communities in District 26, will be succeeded by C. Anthony Muse.

Both Edwards, who served in the legislature for 39 years, and Patterson, who served 16 nonconsecutive years, chose to retire at the end of the term.

Harford County Sen. Bob Cassilly also chose not to seek a third term in the Senate, and secured his new position as county executive in a landslide victory.

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Cassilly, a Republican, will be replaced by Democrat Mary-Dulany James as the senator for Havre de Grace, Aberdeen, Edgewood and other areas in District 34.

Frederick County Sen. Mike Hough, a Republican, gave up his seat to pursue an unsuccessful bid for county executive. He lost to Democrat Jessica Fitzwater on a razor-thin margin of 49.5% to 50.4%.

Bill Folden, a Republican, will take Hough’s seat as the Senate’s representative of District 4, which includes Adamstown, Walkersville and New Market.


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