A large and diverse crowd usually flocks to Del. Guy Guzzone’s annual pizza party, filling the streets of his quiet Columbia neighborhood. But Senate President-for-life Mike Miller hasn’t showed up before at the event that asks only for a voluntary contribution.
So when the Senate chief popped out of his trooper-driven Crown Vic Thursday evening it was a sure sign that Democrat Guzzone was going to take the plunge and run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Jim Robey, the former Howard County executive.
Guzzone had already announced last month he wasn’t going to run for exec, as he had long been expected to do. But Robey said Guzzone didn’t even confirm his plans to run for the Senate until a half-hour before he officially announced his decision to several hundred people at a Jessup community center, where the party had been moved due to severe weather forecast.
Guzzone, finishing his second term in the House of Delegates, told the crowd that after his first term, “I wasn’t sure I was going to stay” in the House. But his former boss, friend and across-the-street neighbor, Shane Pendergrass, vice-chair of the House Health and Government Operations, told him, “It gets better.”
It did get better for Guzzone, a former Howard County Council member who rarely spoke on the House floor and sponsored bills selectively. He became chairman of one of the powerful Appropriations subcommittees, and last week he was named House chair of a Special Joint Commission on the state prison system.
“I had the opportunity to do some real things,” Guzzone said. “My only criteria was I wanted to do good things… and have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.” He didn’t expect Robey to retire. But last night, Robey said, after 47 years in public service in Howard County — street cop, police chief, county executive and senator — “it’s time to move on for people like Guy Guzzone.”
“I’m here to urge all of you to support Guy Guzzone,” said Robey.
Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, Guzzone’s friend and racketball partner since their County Council days, introduced the delegate as “someone who does the right thing” and one of his close advisors. Ulman is now running for lieutenant governor with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.
President Miller had no speaking role at the event, but he was acknowledged by Ulman. Guzzone said in a conversation last week that he had spoken six or seven times about the seat to the Senate president, who is always concerned about the make-up of the Democratic caucus that has kept electing him since 1987.