After serving four terms in the House of Delegates, Rockville Democrat Luiz R.S. Simmons plans to seek the District 17 Senate seat now held by Sen. Jennie M. Forehand.
Simmons said he plans to file for the Senate race Thursday. The Democratic primary is June 24, 2014.
Forehand, 77, has served in the Senate since 1995 and served in the House of Delegates from 1978-95.
Forehand said Tuesday that she was on the verge of deciding whether to run again, but won’t make an official announcement until sometime after the General Assembly session begins in January.
She said people have encouraged her to run and others have told her she should call it a career. She said she’s afraid that making an announcement now might damage the prospects for bills she plans to file this session if she decides not to run.
Former Del. Cheryl Kagan has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the race, but isn’t publicly revealing her intentions yet.
Kagan, 52, said Tuesday that Rockville and Gaithersburg need an advocate in Annapolis on the budget, health care, transportation and education.
Simmons, 64, said he was going to run for the Senate four years ago, but backed off after Forehand wanted to run for one more term.
He said he was surprised this year when Forehand began talking about possibly running again. But he said there’s no animosity between the two legislators.
“I have affection for Jennie. I’ve known her since 1979,” he said.
This week, Simmons announced an endorsement from Rep. John Delaney (D-Dist 6) of Potomac.
Simmons has shown, as a delegate and an attorney, that he’ll put his constituents first, according to a statement from Delaney released by Simmons’ campaign.
Simmons was an early supporter of Delaney’s in his 2012 primary campaign and has backed Delaney’s support for raising Maryland’s minimum wage, Delaney spokesman Will McDonald wrote in an email Tuesday.
Simmons served one term in the House from 1978-1982 as a liberal Republican, and has served in the chamber as a Democrat since 2002.
“I consider myself generally a moderate,” he said.
Simmons said Annapolis is more regimented today than it was in the ’70s, with fewer legislators asking critical questions. He sees more opportunities for independent thinking in the Senate than the House.
Simmons said he wants to use his campaign to talk about serious questions about the state’s future.
For instance, Maryland is poised to spend $100 million a year to subsidize the horse-racing industry, which Simmons said provides a negligible contribution to the state’s economy.