Wednesday, October 7, 2015

NEW DELEGATES: Who'll Fill Maryland's 2 Vacant House Seats? // The Replacements for Jim Proctor & Will Campos in 27A & 47B

By Matt Verghese

BACKGROUND: Maryland currently has two vacancies in the House of Delegates, due to the recent passing of Delegate Jim Proctor and the resignation of Delegate Will Campos for personal reasons. Both members of the General Assembly served as Democrats, and under Maryland law, the vacancies will be filled by a vote of the elected Democratic Central Committees representing the counties where the members previously served. The recommendations of these county Central Committees are then sent to the Governor for formal appointment.

Notably, Delegate Will Campos' District 47B is contained wholly within Prince George's County. As a result, the elected members of the Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee get to make the recommendation for Campos' replacement. In contrast, Delegate Jim Proctor's District 27A is contained within both Prince George's County and Charles County. Correspondingly, both counties' Democratic Central Committees take independent votes on a replacement for Delegate Proctor. Though the appointment process is not yet complete in either legislative district, we have a very good sense of who will replace Delegates Jim Proctor and Will Campos:
  • Likely Replacement in District 27A: Susie Proctor
  • Likely Replacement in District 47B: Carlo Sanchez

DEMOCRATIC CENTRAL COMMITTEES CHOOSE SANCHEZ & PROCTOR - The Prince George's County Democratic Central Committee (PGCDCC) met on October 6th to nominate people to fill the Delegate vacancies in D27A and D47B.  Without any of the drama or backroom chaos that often accompanies these procedures (on both sides of the aisle), the PGCDCC unanimously recommended Susie Proctor and Carlo Sanchez to fill the vacancies for District 27A and 47B, respectively. These names are submitted to Governor Larry Hogan, who has fifteen days to make the appointment.

For Mr. Sanchez, the process effectively concluded last night since District 47B is completely within Prince George's County, but Proctor's District 27A also includes portions of Charles County - so that Central Committee must weigh in as well for the second vacant seat. Article III, Section 13 (b) (3) states (excerpt below, emphasis mine):
If the vacancy occurs in a district which has boundaries comprising a portion or all of two or more counties, the Central Committee of each county involved shall have one vote for submitting the name of a resident of the district; and if there is a tie vote between or among the Central Committees, the list of names there proposed shall be submitted to the Governor, and he shall make the appointment from the list
Earlier this evening, the Charles County Democratic Central Committee joined their Prince George's counterparts in recommending Susie Proctor for the D27A vacancy by a vote of 14-1. Proctor faced competition from Charles County Orphans Court Judge Darlene Breck, and activist and former Commissioner-candidate Jim Easter.

MD'S UNIQUE PROCESS FOR FILLING STATE LEGISLATIVE VACANCIES - Maryland is one of 25 states that fill legislative vacancies through an appointment process, while the other 25 (including Delaware, Pennsylvania and Virginia) have special elections. While the Governor makes the formal appointment, the Maryland Constitution stipulates that the appointee must of be of the same political party as the person they succeed and carves out a role for the local Central Committee. Article III, Section 13 (a) (1) lays it out (excerpt below, emphasis mine):
In case of death, disqualification, resignation, refusal to act, expulsion, or removal from the county or city for which he shall have been elected, of any person who shall have been chosen as a Delegate or Senator, or in case of a tie between two or more such qualified persons, the Governor shall appoint a person to fill such vacancy from a person whose name shall be submitted to him in writing, within thirty days after the occurrence of the vacancy, by the Central Committee of the political party, if any, with which the Delegate or Senator, so vacating, had been affiliated, at the time of the last election or appointment of the vacating Senator or Delegate, in the County or District from which he or she was appointed or elected, provided that the appointee shall be of the same political party, if any, as was that of the Delegate or Senator, whose office is to be filled, at the time of the last election or appointment of the vacating Delegate or Senator, and it shall be the duty of the Governor to make said appointment within fifteen days after the submission thereof to him.

Carlo Sanchez
WHO IS CARLO SANCHEZ? - Carlo Sanchez's name was mentioned immediately following Del. Campos' resignation. He's a lifelong resident of House of Delegates District 47B, and is currently President of the Carole Highlands Civic Association. While the Prince George's Central Committee is his first elected position (he is the body's Secretary), Carlo has been active in local campaigns including managing Wanda Shelton Martin's unsuccessful bid for Delegate in the 47th in 2010. Carlo currently works as Public Safety Training Officer at Montgomery College.

Mr. Sanchez received the backing of Senator Ramirez and the 47th Delegation, and surprisingly no one else threw their hat in the ring. Other names that were floated include Dinora Hernandez who sits on the Price George's County Board of Education, and former Jolene Ivey-aide Wanika Fisher. Carlo's appointment would keep the number of Latino state legislators at 6. Maryland is home to more than 500,000 Hispanic residents. District 47B is the state's first Hispanic-majority district.

Susie Proctor
WHO IS SUSIE PROCTOR? - Susie Proctor is widely assumed to be the choice to complete her husband's term in the House of Delegates. The support of Senate President Mike Miller, who represents District 27, likely sealed the deal . Susie is a former educator, having worked for Prince George's County Public Schools for 30 years. She has not run for elected office before, but is the Vice Chairman of the Prince George's Community College Board of Trustees and Chair of the County Tax Assessment Appeal Board.

Widow/widower succession is not a new concept nationally or locally. Maryland examples includes former Congresswoman Beverly Byron, former Delegate Mary Conroy and former Montgomery County Councilmember Don Praisner.

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