Josh Kurtz: House Cleaning

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By Josh Kurtz

Jimmy Malone and Steven DeBoy are just the tip of the iceberg.

When the House of Delegates convenes in 2015, there could be as many as 50 new members. That’s right, more than a third of the chamber could -- could -- turn over.

Malone and DeBoy, conservative Baltimore County Democrats, were part of the first wave of retirements, signaling their intentions just after Sine Die. Del. Liz Bobo (D), a Howard County liberal, announced her retirement plans months earlier. Others are planning to seek higher office.

The Malone and DeBoy departures say something about the unique challenges facing conservative and moderate Democrats in Annapolis. Redistricting wound up doing them no favors, either.

Indeed, redistricting will contribute heavily to the looming reconfiguration in the House, along with all the usual reasons: electoral defeats, delegates running for higher office, and pure retirements.

In the Senate, turnover has helped contribute to the long tenure of President Mike Miller (D). At this point, Norm Stone (D) is the only senator who has served with someone other than Miller as president. Senators simply don’t know what life is like in the chamber without Miller running the show. No one has the seniority, gravitas or political cojones to challenge Miller’s supremacy.

But in the House, it works a little differently. No one is suggesting that Speaker Mike Busch (D), like Miller, the longest-serving presiding officer in the history of his chamber, is in any kind of danger of losing his gavel. But the House is a much less manageable place under the best of circumstances. As more and more newcomers arrive, with fewer connections and loyalty to Busch than the members who were there when he became speaker in 2003, it becomes harder for Busch and his lieutenants to maintain day-to-day control. That’s just the nature of the beast.

So here’s a quick look at possible House departures, by their newly-drawn district numbers (if districts aren‘t listed, it means all the incumbents are currently expected to return). Remember, upsets and surprise retirements are always possible as well -- and someone could wind up as a candidate for lieutenant governor.

1B: Although he’s one of the two most conservative Democrats in the House, Del. Kevin Kelly is always vulnerable to a Republican challenge, depending on the quality of the candidate and the whims of the voters.

1C: Will Del. LeRoy Myers (R) run for Congress?

2C: Although Hagerstown is becoming increasingly Democratic, Del. John Donoghue (D) is never truly safe.

3A: Whether or not he’s elected mayor of Frederick this year, Del. Galen Clagett (D) is almost certainly not returning.

5: Four Republican incumbents have been drawn into the district. Del. Don Elliott (R), who is 81 and finishing his seventh term, is expected to retire. Del. Nancy Stocksdale (R), 78 and in her fifth term, is a candidate for retirement as well.

6: Del. John Olszewski Jr. (D) is the frontrunner to replace Stone in the Senate, assuming he departs, and Del. Sonny Minnick (D) is on retirement watch as well.

8: Depending on the political dynamic in 2014, Del. Eric Bromwell (D) could be a Republican target. There’s also a vacancy, thanks to redistricting.

9: With Sen. Allen Kittleman (R) likely running for Howard County executive, one or two of the delegates in the district could try to move up. Del. Susan Krebs (R) is now in Dist. 5. And there’s a new Dist. 9A, a Democratic-leaning sub-district with no incumbent.

10: The district lines have been changed significantly, and Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam (D) has already announced her plans to challenge Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D) in a different district.

11: There are rumors that Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D) is contemplating retirement, and Del. Dan Morhaim (D) would almost certainly run for his seat. Already Del. Jon Cardin (D) is planning to run for attorney general.

12: As noted above, all three delegates -- Malone, DeBoy and Bobo -- are out.

13: Sen. Jim Robey (D) just announced his retirement. Will Del. Guy Guzzone (D) run for his seat or for Howard County executive? How much longer do Dels. Frank Turner (D) and Shane Pendergrass (D), stick around?

15: Not everyone is convinced Senate Majority Leader Rob Garagiola (D) is running for re-election, despite what he says --- and the $71,000 in his campaign account. If he didn’t, Del. Brian Feldman (D) would surely run for his seat.

16: Del. Susan Lee (D) is running for the seat Sen. Brian Frosh (D) is giving up to run for attorney general. Del. Bill Frick (D) is planning to run for AG as well.

17: Del. Luiz Simmons (D) seems to be gearing up to run for Senate regardless of whether Sen. Jennie Forehand (D) stays or goes.

19: Del. Sam Arora (D) has had a big target on his back since he voted against marriage equality. But no strong challenger has emerged yet. Del. Ben Kramer (D) could wind up running for Montgomery County executive, but only if the incumbent, Ike Leggett (D), opts for retirement -- which seems increasingly unlikely.

20: Del. Heather Mizeur (D) is running for governor. Del. Sheila Hixson (D) is 80. Candidates are already lining up to run.

21: Former Prince George's Councilman Tom Dernoga (D) is contemplating a run, which could scramble everything.

22: Del. Anne Healey (D) is on mild retirement watch, and it's worth noting that newly appointed Del. Alonzo Washington (D) was not the first choice of Sen. Paul Pinsky (D) when the Prince George's Democratic Central Committee was filling a vacancy. That suggests a degree of instability exists.

23: The district has four incumbents now, including House Judiciary Chairman Joe Vallario (D) -- who could be the odd man out. Del. Jim Hubbard (D) is also being squeezed by the new lines.

24: Del. Carolyn Howard (D) may be thinking of retiring. It's worth noting that Del. Darren Swain (D) is new, and Sen. Joanne Benson (D) doesn't especially get along with the other two delegates. Will Tiffany Alston attempt a comeback? Will Greg Hall run for the seat he was almost appointed to?

25: Del. Aisha Braveboy (D) is running for attorney general. Will Del. Melony Griffith (D) take on wounded Sen. Ulysses Currie (D)?

26: The latest rumor has Sen. Anthony Muse (D) contemplating a challenge to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (D). Surely at least one of the delegates would run for his Senate seat under that scenario -- and Del. Veronica Turner (D) may take him on regardless.

27: The Vallario seat is now up for grabs.

29: All three delegates could be gone. Del. Johnny Wood (D), at 77, is a candidate for retirement in 29A, and Democrats -- even conservative Democrats -- aren’t much in favor in the district these days. Del. John Bohanan (D) also faces electoral peril in 29B. And Del. Tony O’Donnell (R) in 29C? Who knows? He could wind up running for Senate or Congress.

30: The district has changed a lot and now has sub districts. The incumbents in 30A are Speaker Busch and Del. Herb McMillan (R). The new lines help the former and hurt the latter. Del. Robert Costa (R) is now the incumbent in 30B. He’s considered a candidate for retirement.

31: The district has also been split into sub districts. 31A has no incumbent. 31B has three. Does Del. Steve Schuh (R) proceed with his plans to run for Anne Arundel county executive? Is Del. Don Dwyer (R) toast?

32: Dels. Mary Ann Love (D) and Ted Sophocleus (D) are both on retirement watch.

34: If Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R) retires or runs for re-election in Dist. 35, do one of the delegates step up to run for Senate?

35: With Sen. Barry Glassman (R) running for Harford county executive, one or more of the delegates could try to move up.

37A: Will Del. Rudy Cane (D) want another term in 2014, when he will be 80?

38: The district has been split into three subs, with Republican Dels. Charles Otto and Mike McDermott thrust into the same sub district. McDermott seems set to challenge Sen. Jim Mathias (D), so he’s probably gone. Dist. 38B will produce a non-incumbent winner, and in 38C, House Apropriations Chairman Norm Conway (D) could find himself in deep trouble.

39: The incumbents are probably all seeking re-election. But does former Del. Saqib Ali (D) try to get his old seat back, or does he run for something else, and which incumbent is most vulnerable if Ali tries for a House seat in 39?

40: Four Democratic incumbents are now in the same Baltimore City district: Dels. Frank Conaway Jr., Keith Haynes, Barbara Robinson and Shawn Tarrant. Something’s gotta give.

42: Much shuffling in this Baltimore County district. Del. Stephen Lafferty (D) seems safe in 42A, but four Republican incumbents now live in the two-seat 42B: Dels. Susan Aumann, Joseph Boteler, William Frank, and Wade Kach. Kach is said to be contemplating challenging Sen. James Brochin (D).

43: If Sen. Joan Carter Conway (D) decides to retire, one or two delegates could try to move up.

44: The district now has one seat centered in Baltimore City, and two anchored in Baltimore County. City Dels. Keiffer Mitchell (D) and Melvin Stukes (D) live in the same subdistrict in the city. Mitchell could wind up as Doug Gansler’s running mate.

45: Will Sen. Nathaniel McFadden (D) retire? Will Del. Cheryl Glenn (D) run for Senate regardless of what McFadden does? Will newly appointed Del. Nina Harper (D) be able to run a competitive race for a full term. Already Cory McCrary (D), an aggressive and impressive union and community activist, is seeking a House seat in this East Baltimore district.

46: All the House incumbents are running for re-election at this juncture, and all appear strong. But they’ve also got a strong challenger in Brooke Lierman, a lawyer and the daughter of former Maryland Democratic Chairman Terry Lierman.

47: This Prince George’s district has a new majority-Latino sub district that was designed to elect County Councilman Will Campos (D). That means three incumbents are now in a two-seat sub district: Dels. Jolene Ivey (D), Doyle Niemann (D) and Michael Summers (D). If Ivey winds up on a gubernatorial ticket, as rumored, that would take care of the problem.

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

Recent Center Maryland columns by Josh Kurtz:

Reality Check (in Four Parts)

Winners and Losers

Filing Deadline Quietly Changed to Early January

Stations of the Cross and the Station That’s Become a Cross to Bear

Fools Rushern In

A Sense of the Senate

Montgomery Councilmember Seeks Investigation Into Anonymous Web Attack

Peter Principle
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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.