Josh Kurtz: In Annapolis, the Future Is Now

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As the Maryland General Assembly session gavels in today, look around the state Senate chamber, where there are 11 freshmen in a body of 47 members – and two more are on their way. Now look at all the senators who have been in Annapolis forever and are getting up there in years.

Question: How many of those veteran lawmakers will be returning to the Senate for another term in 2019?

Now walk across the marble floor of the State House lobby, over to the House of Delegates chamber, where there are 58 freshmen in a chamber with 141 members, and at least one more coming.

Question: How many of those freshmen delegates will be crossing the lobby to become freshman senators four years from now? My hunch: A lot of them.

Let’s look at the numbers – and the cast of characters.

The list of potential Senate retirees in 2018 begins with biggest one of all, President Mike Miller (D). He will be 75 years old on Election Day 2018. Miller is probably president-for-life if he wants to be. But at some point, he may finally choose to step aside after his historic run as Senate boss.

At least three of the four committee chairmen should also be on the list of possible retirees: Finance Chairman Mac Middleton (D) will be 73 in 2018; Budget and Taxation Chairman Ed Kasemeyer (D) will also be 73; and Education, Health and Environment Chairwoman Joan Carter Conway (D) will be 67.

Others who may be looking for the exits in four short years: Sens. John Astle (D), who will be 75 in 2018; Gail Bates (R), who will be 72, though she was just elected in November; Joanne Benson (D), who will be 77; Ulysses Currie (D), who will be 81; Ed DeGrange (D), who will be 69; Addie Eckardt (R), who, like Bates, was just elected, though she will be 75; George Edwards (R), who will be 70; Delores Kelley (D), who will be 82; Kathy Klausmeier (D), who will be 68; Jim Mathias (D), who will be 67; Nathaniel McFadden (D), who will be 72; Karen Montgomery (D), who will be 83; Catherine Pugh (D), who will be 68; Ed Reilly (R), who will be 68; and Ron Young (D), who will be 78.

And this list does not include other senators who may decide to leave – whether to seek another political office, or for any number of other reasons.

In most of these districts, the leading potential successors include freshmen delegates. Not that more senior delegates or other politicians wouldn’t try to run for Senate as well. But in many cases the new delegates seem uniquely equipped to move up, even if more experienced officials decide they’re interested in an open Senate seat.

In McFadden’s East Baltimore district, it would not be surprising to see freshman Del. Cory McCray (D) sliding into the Senate in four years. Same with Del. Erek Barron (D) in Benson’s Prince George’s County district and either Del. Darryl Barnes (D) or Del. Angela Angel (D) in Currie’s Prince George’s district.

In Kelley’s Baltimore County district, new Dels. Jay Jalisi (D) and Benjamin Brooks (D) are both ambitious. And in Klausmeier’s Baltimore County district, Del. Christian Miele (R) is clearly an up-and-comer – though Democrats would dearly love Del. Eric Browmell (D) to eventually succeed Klausmeier and reclaim the Senate seat his father once held.

All three of Kasemeyer’s House colleagues in his Howard-Baltimore county district are freshmen. And in Frederick, the Young dynasty always seems to perpetuate. If Ron Young retires, would his wife, newly-elected Del. Karen Lewis Young (D), who is a dozen years his junior, try to succeed him? Freshman Del. Carol Krimm (D) could also be a candidate for the Senate seat come 2018.

If Middleton retires in Charles County, new Del. Edith Patterson (D) will certainly be in the conversation of potential candidates to replace him, though the district’s other two delegates, C.T. Wilson (D) and Sally Jameson (D), probably believe they have claims on the seat.

In Anne Arundel County, freshman Del. Mark Chang (D) may be in line to succeed DeGrange if he retires in 2018, though Del. Pam Beidle (D) probably has the right of first refusal.

On the Eastern Shore, all three House members in Mathias’ district are Republican freshmen. Each was elected in a subdistrict; Del. Mary Beth Carozza (R) comes from the most populous and has the best political chops. New Dels. Johnny Mautz (R) and Christopher Adams (R) could be contenders to replace Eckardt in the Senate.

In Western Maryland, freshman Del. Mike McKay (R) will be a legitimate contender to replace Edwards if he retires – though Edwards might prefer to see his son, Garrett County Board of Commissioners President Paul Edwards (R) take over.

And while Mike Miller might similarly dream of having one of his politically-minded children succeed him in the Senate whenever he finally decides to step away, new Del. Michael Jackson (D), a former Prince George’s sheriff, has to be considered a legitimate contender as well – especially if Democratic turnout in the district goes up in 2018.

So – in the House of Delegates, there are any number of rising stars in the freshman class. But some – as a look to the Senate suggests – will have opportunities to move up the political ladder sooner than others will.

 
Follow me on Twitter -- #joshkurtznews

And I'll be a guest on "News Talk" on News Channel 8 today from Annapolis, with host Bruce DePuyt, at around 10:20 a.m.

Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at .

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Josh Kurtz has been writing about Maryland politics since late 1995. Louie Goldstein, William Donald Schaefer and Pete Rawlings were alive, but the Intercounty Connector, as far as anyone could tell, was dead.


But some things never change: Mike Miller is still in charge of the Senate. Gerry Evans and Bruce Bereano are among the top-earning lobbyists in Annapolis. Steny Hoyer is still waiting for Nancy Pelosi to disappear. And Maryland Republicans are still struggling to be relevant.


The media landscape in Maryland has changed a lot, and Kurtz is happy to write weekly for Center Maryland. He's been writing a column for the website since it launched in January 2010.


In his "real" job, Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily down on Capitol Hill. But he'll always find Maryland politics more fascinating.


Kurtz grew up in New York City and attended public schools there. He has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. He's married with two daughters and lives in Takoma Park, Md. He hopes you'll drop him a line, or maybe go out for a meal with him, because he's always hungry -- for political gossip.