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Del. Adrienne Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat who ran the Maryland House of Delegates floor sessions during the illness of the late Speaker Michael Busch, said Wednesday that she is running for job of speaker.
Del. Adrienne Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat who ran the Maryland House of Delegates floor sessions during the illness of the late Speaker Michael Busch, said Wednesday that she is running for job of speaker. (Amy Davis / The Baltimore Sun)

Del. Adrienne A. Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat who ran the Maryland House of Delegates floor sessions during the illness of the late Speaker Michael Busch, said Wednesday that she is running for the job of speaker.

Jones, 64, was a close ally of Busch, an Anne Arundel Democrat who died Sunday from pneumonia.

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Jones was believed to be among a handful of top candidates for the job, but she is the first to announce she will seek it.

Other Democrats considered among the front-runners for the office are Del. Maggie McIntosh, 71, of Baltimore, and Del. Dereck Davis, 51, of Prince George’s County.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch will lie in state Monday morning at the State House in Annapolis, the start of two days of public funeral observances planned next week.

Jones said the delegates will choose a new speaker in a special legislative session May 1. The governor can call a special session at the request of legislative leaders; such a session requires both chambers to return, although the Senate likely will have no business to conduct.

A spokesman for the governor said he has not yet formally called for the special session.

The General Assembly adjourned its regular, 90-day session Monday.

“I’m interested in being the next speaker. I’ve been Speaker pro tem for the last 16 years,” she said. “In terms of my style, I’m fair to everybody and I know when I need to be firm. I would be the best person to continue Speaker Michael Busch’s legacy.”

McIntosh and Davis declined to comment until after Busch’s funeral Tuesday.

Jones said other people seeking the job made phone calls Sunday, the day Busch died, lobbying for votes. She didn’t identify them. She said she found their actions “troubling” and “bothersome.”

“It did not sit well with a lot of people,” she said.

She said she initially didn’t want to start campaigning until after Busch’s funeral.

Maryland lawmakers put the finishing touches on an ambitious General Assembly session in which they enacted plans aimed at helping working families, public schools and the environment — and, in doing so, completed the legislative legacy of the House of Delegates’ late speaker, Michael Busch.

“The message was getting out that, ‘Adrienne is not interested,’” Jones said. “I’m making my calls now so that people know that I am definitely interested.”

Jones has been a member of the House since 1997. She’s chairwoman of a subcommittee that handles the budget for state construction projects, putting her in touch with lawmakers around the state who seek support for projects in their districts.

McIntosh chairs the House Appropriations Committee. She’s been a delegate since 1992. Davis is the chairman of the Economic Matters Committee and has been in the House since 1995.

If the eventual speaker is Davis, Jones or McIntosh, the choice would be a historic first because Maryland has only had white men as leaders of its legislative chambers. Davis and Jones are black and McIntosh is openly gay. Also, the House has never had a female speaker.

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Delegates chose not to elect a new speaker on the last day of legislative session, instead focusing their floor sessions on completing the passage of hundreds of bills.

The last time the House faced a similar decision was in 1973, when Speaker Thomas Hunter Lowe was appointed in July to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Delegates selected a new speaker that November, according to state Attorney General Brian Frosh.

The speaker is chosen by a simple majority of members of the House.

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