Bilal Ayyub, under pressure, withdraws from consideration for Maryland senate vacancy

August 26, 2013

The University of Maryland engineering professor recruited by a coalition of minority group leaders to compete for the upcoming Maryland State Senate vacancy in Montgomery County’s District 15 has withdrawn his name, citing pressure from elected officials and “discouraging” e-mails from party activists.

Bilal Ayyub was expected to challenge Del. Brian Feldman(D-Montgomery) for the opening created by the resignation of Sen. Robert J. Garagiola in June. The county’s Democratic Central Committee has scheduled a Sept. 10 vote on a recommendation to Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who will make the appointment.

Ayyub’s withdrawal was first reported by Maryland Juice and Bethesda Magazine’s MoCo Politics blog.

Montgomery County has never sent a candidate of color to the state senate. Minority groups, citing the county’s shifting demographics, expressed displeasure at the party establishment’s rapid closing of ranks behind Feldman, a three-term incumbent. Among those endorsing him were Garagiola, County Executive Isiah Leggett and the other two Delegates in District 15, Aruna Miller and Kathleen Dumais .

Ayyub was put forward as a potential interim choice, who would finish Garagiola’s unexpired term but not run in the June primary.

But on Saturday, Ayyub informed Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee chair Gabriel Albornoz that he had withdrawn because of the negative reaction to his candidacy.

“The discouraging electronic traffic on my candidacy has illuminated for all of us the fact that we have a long way to go to change the mindset of those who are apprehensive about inclusion.”

Ayyub, 55, added that he was “discouraged or urged to withdraw by various individuals including elected officials.”

In an interview Monday morning Ayyub declined to specify who contacted him, except to say that at least one elected official “called me repeatedly.”

“They were very heavy-handed in trying to get me out of the race,” Ayyub said.

Ayyub said members of the central committee were also under pressure to follow the dictates of the elected officials.

In the end, he said “We thought it was not really headed in the right way.”

Bill Turque, who covers Montgomery County government and politics, has spent more than thirty years as a reporter and editor for The Washington Post, Newsweek, the Dallas Times Herald and The Kansas City Star.
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