Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Garagiola (D-Dist. 15) of Germantown announced Thursday that he’s resigning from the Maryland General Assembly effective Sept. 1.
Garagiola, 40, said in a statement that he wanted to spend more time with his children, ages 15, 13 and 12. He said he was looking forward to being more involved in their lives than he has while in public service.
The senator and his wife divorced in April, according to court records.
Garagiola, a lawyer, has served in the Senate since 2003 and as majority leader since 2011. He serves on the Senate Finance Committee.
Garagiola ran for a congressional seat in the newly redrawn 6th District in 2012. He was defeated in the primary by businessman John Delaney, who went on to win the general election.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach said in a statement Thursday that he was saddened by Garagiola’s decision, but understood the need to spend more time with family. He said Garagiola was a talented and energetic senator who served his district with skill and dedication.
“[Garagiola] had a distinguished career in public service,” Gabriel Albornoz, chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, told The Gazette on Thursday. “He was well-respected by his colleagues, and will be missed in that capacity.”
Once the seat becomes vacant, the county’s central committee will have 30 days to submit the name of a replacement to the governor.
Albornoz said the committee will announce more details on the process for selecting a replacement soon.
Del. Charles Barkley (D-Dist. 39), a Germantown resident, said at least one of the delegates from District 15 — Kathleen M. Dumais of Rockville, Brian J. Feldman of Potomac and Aruna Miller of Darnestown — would try for the Senate seat and the House delegation would get a new member.
“It’s always good to get some new blood,” Barkley said.
Montgomery County Council Vice President Craig Rice (D-Dist. 2), who served four years in the House of Delegates from District 15 while Garagiola was a senator, said he was saddened to hear of Garagiola’s announcement but understood the choice he had to make.
“Oftentimes the story that’s not told is how our families suffer and sacrifice for our being in office,” Rice said.
He praised the job Garagiola has done representing his district and Montgomery County, and said Garagiola’s legacy will be his role in making sure Maryland is at the forefront of efforts to develop wind, solar and other forms of alternative energy.
Rice said he’s happy with his position on the County Council and has no interest in the Senate opening or returning to the House if one of the current delegates fills Garagiola’s seat.
Marilyn Balcombe, president of the Gaithersburg-Germantown Chamber of Commerce, said Garagiola was a strong supporter of business in Montgomery County and in Maryland who understood the importance of attracting and keeping businesses.
“Rob has always been a friend of ours,” Balcombe said.
With a strong cast of legislators in the district, there’s lots of speculation about who will fill the seat, she said.
“I think we’ll all have to stay tuned,” Balcombe said.