Democrats Fumbling Busch Replacement

Nobody likes to talk about the mechanics of government after the death of a legislator, particularly as the state remains in the grieving process for Speaker Mike Busch. But Anne Arundel County Democrats are going about replacing Busch in all the wrong ways.

As reported by The Capital, Anne Arundel Democrats are going to replace Busch by holding public hears outside of the District:

The Committee’s elected members will meet at 6:00 pm Thursday, April 25 to begin interviews. We anticipate voting on the nomination that same evening. The meeting will be held at the Village Commons Community Center, located in the Village at Waugh Chapel shopping center, 1326 Main Chapel Way, Gambrills, Maryland 21054. The meeting will be open to the public; however public comment will not be accepted at the meeting. Written testimony regarding candidates should be emailed to annearundeldems@gmail.com no later than 12 noon on Thursday, April 25 for full consideration.

It’s truly surreal that the Democrats would decide to have their meeting on this matter so far away from District 30A, given that the Waugh Chapel location is at minimum 10 miles away from the District. That the meeting would be outside the district in and of itself is not unusual; Republicans have often held meetings to replace vacancies in Annapolis, regardless of the location of the vacancy. But often that has more to do with the centralized location of the Annapolis and the fact that Republicans hold their meetings consistently in Annapolis.

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Besides, it’s not like Democrats don’t have access to rooms in Annapolis, as it should be very simple for them to secure a room in the Lowe House Office Building to host this meeting, just as Republicans have done in the past. And the Lowe House Office Building is actually in District 30A.

As The Capital wrote:

We think that’s a mistake. The meeting should be moved to District 30A — Gambrills is in 33 — and there should be a public comment portion of the meeting.

They’re right. But the lack of public comment also highlights something that we have discussed often over the years: special elections for legislative vacancies. We saw what happened in 2013 and 2015 when vacancies in Republican-held seats turned into drama-filled nightmares. We’ve talked about solutions before, but there has been no real impetus to change.  There’s gnashing of teeth when we see a vacancy and then, over time, people forget there was a vacancy at all.

Special elections to fill legislative vacancies are a good government reform that both left and right can agree on. There’s no reason not to get this done.

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