Don’t leave choice for Pipkin seat to Democratic governor, Republicans say

By Dan Menefee and Len Lazarick


From left: Mike Smigiel, Martin O'Malley, Steve Hershey

In happier times: Del. Mike Smigiel, left, and Del. Steve Hershey, right, with Gov. Martin O’Malley, seated, at a May 2 bill signing. (By Jay Baker, Executive Office of the Governor)

The chair of Caroline Republican Central Committee is blaming the central committee in Queen Anne’s County for giving Gov. Martin O’Malley the power to choose the successor of Sen. E.J. Pipkin in District 36.

Del. Mike Smigiel, one of the two nominees, is asking the four county central committees to jointly interview him and Del. Steve Hershey to help break the tie and avoid leaving the choice to O’Malley.

“It is regretful that the members of the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee voted this evening to create a tie in this process and send the decision to Governor O’Malley,” said Caroline Republican Central Committee Chair Rob Willoughby in a statement late Tuesday. “Now, a decision that should have been made here in the 36th District will be made instead in Annapolis by a Democratic Governor.”

The vote makes it a 2-2 tie and O’Malley will pick the winner if none of the four counties in District 36 change their vote. Hershey won the votes of the Kent and Caroline central committees on Thursday and Friday — and Cecil went to Smigiel last Wednesday, as expected.

The Queen Anne’s Republican Central Committee voted late yesterday to nominate Smigiel after Audrey Scott, the former Republican State Party Chair, withdrew her name from consideration last week. Scott’s withdraw was prompted by reports that US Rep. Andy Harris, R-MD1, was exerting pressure on the committees to vote for Scott. Harris denied any involvement.

Smigiel asks for joint interview

In an email Tuesday night, Smigiel said, “I suggest that, for the good of the Party, we agree to bring the two nominees before the members of the four central committees to profess our qualifications and debate any issues the members of said honorable Central Committees should desire.”

“There is nothing to be served by allowing the Governor of the State to choose the next Republican Senator from the 36th District,” Smigiel continued. “This is an obligation of the various Central Committees and should only be done by them. The wounds opened in the process of narrowing the selection down to two must be healed so the Central Committees can once again begin the process soon of choosing who will be the person chosen to be nominated to  replace the Delegate ultimately, who becomes the Senator.”

O’Malley is supposed to receive the nomination by Sept. 10 to make his decision.

Related story: Smigiel, Hershey tied, but both question committee process


About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. cg8s

    I wish the 4 Central Committee chairs had put the party above their parochial power issues here. Instead of having 4 independent votes – which had a high possibility of resulting in a tie – they should’ve come together and met together as one before voting individually. But each of them had to relish the spotlight and do it independently. We know that the legislature doesn’t care about county lines when gerrymandering districts, so we shouldn’t spend so much time arguing about Queen Anne’s vs Caroline vs Cecil vs Kent.

    BTW, Smigiel is claiming that the Central Committee votes represent the will of 64% of the voters in the district, but that is an extremely odd extrapolation of bad math. The actual votes from the 2010 election show Hershey beating the incumbent Smigiel in every county:
    — Queen Anne’s: Hershey (14,497) vs Smigiel (12,126)
    — Kent: Hershey (4,740) vs Smigiel (4,026)
    — Caroline: Hershey (3,164) vs Smigiel (2,538)
    — Cecil: Hershey (9,963) vs Smigiel (7,605)
    Interesting that Hershey’s largest percentage win was in Smigiel’s home county of Cecil.

  2. jake mohorovic

    Why does the media characterize the selection of a new State Senator as “in fighting” rather than “working through the process”.

    • cg8s

      Because it feeds the dialogue of the MD GOP being un-cohesive, incompetent, and incapable of being a legitimate opposition to the DEM monopoly in Annapolis. Of course, the Republicans only feed that fire with their constant bickering and name-calling (i.e., “RINO” and “establishment”).

  3. Wheres the beef

    What is the substantiation for the statement in this article that Audrey Scott’s decision to withdraw was “prompted by reports that US Rep Andy Harris was exerting presssure on the committees to vote for Scott”? Her statement on withdrawing said she did not want to cause party disunity and prefered the two delegates who had one committee each at that point proceed without her in the race. Your writers, and especially the one from the Chestertown paper, have made claims against the Congressman that don’t seem to be supported by facts in several of these articles.

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