August 7, 2013

Smigiel will seek Pipkin’s seat

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At a bill signing in May, back row, Dels. Mike Smigiel, Stephen Hershey and Jay Jacobs, with Gov. Martin O'Malley in front left with Speaker Michael Busch.

At a bill signing in May, back row, Dels. Mike Smigiel, Stephen Hershey and Jay Jacobs, with Gov. Martin O'Malley in front left with Speaker Michael Busch.

By Daniel Menefee

Special to MarylandReporter.com

Del. Michael Smigiel

Del. Michael Smigiel, taken from his Facebook page

Del. Mike Smigiel said he has put his name in for the nomination to replace Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who will resign effective August 12. Republican Central Committees from the four Upper Shore Counties will submit a name or names to the governor.

Pipkin announced Monday he would resign to earn a master’s degree in sports management at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

Currently in his third term in Annapolis, Smigiel is now the longest serving delegate in District 36 among his colleagues, Del. Jay Jacobs, R-Kent, and Del. Stephen Hershey, R- Queen Anne’s.

Thinks he’s most qualified

“I have great respect for Hershey and Jacobs,” Smigiel, R-Cecil, said in a brief phone interview on Tuesday. ”They have been very effective leaders in their first terms, but I believe my experience in passing legislation and advocating on the floor in the House makes me the best choice to carry on the fight for the Shore in the Senate.”

Senate Republican Leader E.J. Pipkin opposes tax hikes in floor debate.

Senate Republican Leader E.J. Pipkin during floor debate.

Smigiel believes he is the most qualified member of District 36 because of his history in moving bills in a legislature dominated 2-1 by Democrats. He said he would run for Pipkin’s seat in 2015 whether he gets the nomination or not.

The central committees in Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, and Cecil counties must nominate Pipkin’s replacement within 30 days of his resignation or Gov. Martin O’Malley will get to fill the seat.

Smigiel said he will miss working with Pipkin. The two have been such close allies at home in Cecil County and in Annapolis that detractors refer to them as Shmipkin.

“E.J has been my best friend for the last 11 years in Annapolis, fighting for the interests of 36th District and all of the Shore,” Smigiel said. “He has been very successful as a businessman and as legislator, and he will be missed by the party in Annapolis.”

Jacobs, Hershey consider race; Sossi is in

At a bill signing in May, back row, Dels. Mike Smigiel, Stephen Hershey and Jay Jacobs, with Gov. Martin O'Malley in front left with Speaker Michael Busch.

At a bill signing in May, back row, Dels. Mike Smigiel, Stephen Hershey and Jay Jacobs, with Gov. Martin O’Malley in front left with Speaker Michael Busch.

Jacobs said on Tuesday that he has considered putting his name in for the nomination — but wanted to wait until he meets with Hershey and Smigiel on Wednesday evening.

“We all work well together, and collectively, we all get a lot of things done for the District,” Jacobs said. “No matter who gets the nomination, our good working relationship will continue.”

Hershey said that he too was surprised by Pipkin’s resignation and wanted to wait until the three men met on Wednesday before deciding his own future.

“I have received a number of text messages, emails, and phone calls encouraging me to pursue the process to succeed E.J. in the Maryland Senate,” Hershey said. “I am certainly going to think about it and have plans to speak to my colleagues and supporters in the next few days. I think it’s my responsibility to determine the best capacity in which I can serve the residents of the 36th District.”

Former Del. Richard Sossi has also put his name in for the nomination. Sossi lost to Hershey in 2010 by a mere 124 votes after Hershey’s campaign published pictures of Sossi asleep during sessions in the House. Sossi had served two terms.