Maryland Senate GOP leadership up for grabs again -- Gazette.Net


Former state Sen. E.J. Pipkin’s resignation has set off two battles of succession. One is over who will represent his Eastern Shore district, and the other is over who will become the Senate’s new minority leader.

Pipkin (R-Dist. 36) of Elkton officially ended his 11-year career as a Maryland lawmaker on Aug. 12 to pursue a master’s in sports management at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Pipkin’s departure opens a void in the Senate Republican caucus leadership. Minority Whip Edward R. Reilly said the minority leader position likely will not be filled until October, after the next District 36 senator is selected.

Reilly (R-Dist. 33) of Crofton is among those who will seek to be the next minority leader, he said. He said he does not know if anyone will challenge him for the job.

In caucus history, most of the recent whips — the second in power — have become the next leader, Reilly said.

Sen. Christopher B. Shank said his vote for minority leader will go to Sen. David R. Brinkley, a former minority leader. However, during a phone interview Aug. 14, Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market did not specify if he would want to be minority leader again.

Shank (R-Dist. 2) of Hagerstown — who gained his state Senate seat in 2010 by ousting longtime state lawmaker Donald F. Munson — said he is personally not yet ready to seek leadership among the caucus.

“[Brinkley] has the right set of experiences,” Shank said. “His ability to articulate and communicate the message of the caucus has been battle tested.”

Brinkley served as Senate minority leader in 2007 and 2008 before stepping down.

Brinkley was minority whip in 2011 when Sen. Allan H. Kittleman (R-Dist. 9) of West Friendship stepped down as minority leader. The caucus elected Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-Dist. 34) of Abingdon as leader and Pipkin as whip.

Past votes to name a Senate minority leader have gone well into overtime, with the caucus cloistered, casting multiple votes before sending up white smoke, said Shank, likening past leadership elections to the papal conclave.

“I think we will get the question of the minority leadership worked out far more easily and with less bloodshed than the decision before the four central committees in District 36,” Shank said.

Brinkley said attention is now on filling Pipkin’s seat in the Senate.

The four Republican central committees in District 36 — one each in Caroline, Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties — have 30 days each submit the name of a possible successor to the governor.

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) has the final say on who fills the seat.

In 2010, the Republican central committees in Frederick and Washington counties disagreed on a successor for a vacant delegate seat in Subdistrict 3B, with each committee submitting its own choice. That angered some Republicans who thought a Democratic governor would act in his party’s interests, not the GOP’s.

Reilly and Brinkley said they hope the District 36 counties will reach a consensus and send one name to the governor.