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Published on August 21st, 2013 | by Len Lazarick

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Audrey Scott is surprise front-runner in race to replace Pipkin

By Len Lazarick and Dan Menefee

For MarylandReporter.com

Audrey Scott with First Lady Katie O'Malley at Maryland Women's Hall of Fame induction ceremony, March 14, 2007.

Audrey Scott with First Lady Katie O’Malley at Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, March 14, 2007. (Governor’s Press Office)

In the insider race to succeed Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin in the seat he resigned on the Upper Shore, former Republican Party State Chair Audrey Scott has become the surprise front runner. Two of the central committees in the four counties of District 36 have voted for her, dissing the campaigns of current Dels. Mike Smigiel and Steve Hershey.

Scott won the vote by the Kent County Republican Central Committee on Wednesday night and she captured the support Tuesday of the GOP committee in Queen Anne’s County, where Hershey lives and Smigiel’s chief of staff chairs the committee.

UPDATE: In an email early this morning, the Kent County committee reported that they are now supporting Hershey.

Smigiel won the vote of the Cecil County Republican Central Committee where he lives. The vote was 8-1 Wednesday night.

Politics is a contact sport

“A majority of QAC committee members had pledged me their support,” Smigiel said. “But it’s the nature of politics, it’s a contact sport.”

Scott, 77, is an unusual choice. Born and raised in Boston with the accent to prove it, Scott started her political career as the first woman mayor of Bowie, Maryland in the 1970s, and later served two terms on the Prince George’s County Council. She was secretary of the Maryland Department of Planning under Gov. Bob Ehrlich.

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. (Governor’s Press Office)

Scott has lived in Queen Anne’s County only five years and she was vacationing in Alaska this week, as the delegates and others in the 14-person race campaigned feverishly among the 32 Republicans on the four central committees.

Caroline up in the air

Caroline is likely to go with Smigiel now that Kent has gone for Scott, said a source close to the Caroline Republican Central Committee. This would create a tie among the counties and give Gov. Martin O’Malley the option to select one of the two candidates, presumably not the cantankerous Smigiel, a thorn in the side of the Democratic leadership at the State House.

But another Caroline County source said the committee there might go for Del. Steve Hershey, or anyone other than Smigiel because he hadn’t shown the county much love until recently. Caroline stands to lose any chance of getting a Caroline native in the House if a sitting delegate from District 36 is not elevated to the Senate.

Smigiel has offered constitutional amendments in the past to guarantee representation for Caroline. Caroline has been without a resident delegate since 1994.

“A vacant seat must be created in the House if Caroline wants a shot at a seat in Annapolis,” said a source.

A source close to U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, who represents the area, said he is remaining neutral in the nomination process but other sources say Chris Meekins, Harris’ deputy chief of staff, has been exerting influence on the central committees all week.

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  • Voice of reason in district 36

    If Audrey Scott is the name (or a name) sent to the governor for appointment, then that is the most ludicrous move the central committees can make. Scott does not have standing in the District. She has never put herself forward as a candidate for election in the District at any level. There are so many in the pool who have and should feel quite perplexed and angered by her selection.
    The central committees should be ashamed of themselves. Shame on Caroline and Cecil county central committees for not interviewing the candidates and being fair and honest about the process (so I am told.) Shame on Kent County and Queen Anne’s for their weak leadership. Audrey Scott = a most inappropriate, unjustifiable and indefensible selection = supporter of the gas tax, waived rule 11 as chairperson of Rep. Party in governors election 2010 in order to provide favor to her old boss and perennial loser Bob Ehrlich, and as Dept of planning cabinet chair under him: laid the foundation for “plan Maryland” with Richard Hall, he chief planner at the time. Shame on all of you in the district 36 central committees.

    • cg8s

      Way to slander her name with a complete lack of facts. If you took the time to check your version of her time at Dept of Planning, you would see you are way off… Start with your absurd accusation that Richard Hall was the chief planner at the time. Not even close to fact. You should change your username to “Voice of opinionated untruths in district 36.”

  • Daren

    What difference does it make what the Central Committees do? Didn’t the courts say the governor can do whatever he wants regardless of who the Central Committee chooses? This was regarding the replacement for Prince Georges County delegate Tiffany Alston when the Central Committee chose a replacement that the governor ignored the committee recommendation and appointed someone else.

    • lenlazarick

      Daren, I was reading that Court of Appeals opinion for some guidance on this situation, and what happened with Alston’s replacement was a bit more complicated. The governor asked the central committee to withdraw the nomination, and they did, and then submitted a new name more pleasing to the gov. He didn’t just appoint whoever he wanted. The court affirmed that all that happened in a timely fashion, and said the central committee could indeed withdraw the nomination.

  • ksteve

    As Daren says, the MD Court of Appeals did rule that the governor could ignore the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee’s choice and name whoever he preferred to fill the Alston. It was a strange decision that needs to be corrected by the legislature if at all possible. I believe there should be a process in place that permits the filling of early legislative vacancies by election rather than by a political committee containing few persons who will all have their own agendas and possible ties to various politicos. Despite serving four years on a Central Committee in Howard County, I say democracy is always best in the filling of vacancies. However, this is a late vacancy (with less than a year and a half to go in the term). So the political route seems necessary. Getting specific, if Audrey Scott is selected by the governor to fill the Pitkin vacancy in the MD Senate, she is only assured of being there until whoever is elected in 2014 and she is currently 77 years old. Will she even run in 2014? Bear also in mind that the new redistricted LD36 contains 2010 populations by county as follows: Queen Anne’s 47899, Cecil 36000, Caroline 24234, Kent 20266. To the extent that residency is a factor in how people vote. someone from Queen Anne’s should be favored to win the Senate seat in 2014 and, under the weird and possibly unconstitutional system of county (rather than people) representation used only in LD36 to elect delegates, someone from Caroline should have a better chance than now of having a resident delegate.

  • InGodWeTrust

    Her picture with O’Malley’s wife says it all. Regardless of Scott’s political history, anyone who would cozy up to O’Malley’s wife for a picture cannot be trusted to take the necessary steps to rescue this state from the disastrous state that O’Malley has put us all in.

    • cg8s

      So, we should exclude anybody who has ever attended a function with the wife of a Dem? Even if that event was a non-partisan celebration of women in leadership? Wow… Now I see why the MD GOP doesn’t have a chance at becoming a legitimate opposition to the DEM monopoly. Here in VA, we fight amongst ourselves, but in the end we get our stuff together and actually WIN general elections. I wish MD would try that out.

  • Abe1865

    What did Audrey do that was great to belong to a Hall of Fame act like a moron. The mystery is around about how Ehrlich won the 2010 Republican Primary over Brian Murphy has something to do with a rematch from 2006 against O’Malley.

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