Former delegate Darren Swain tapped to replace Tiffany Alston in Md. House

Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) tapped former delegate Darren Swain on Friday to fill the vacancy left by the ouster of Tiffany Alston, ignoring the recommendation of the Prince George’s Democratic Central Committee.

Swain, 42, had won the backing of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) who had publicly maintained he was staying neutral.

Alston, a first-term lawmaker who had held the seat, was removed from office in October after she was sentenced on a misconduct charge for stealing $800 from the General Assembly to pay an employee of her law firm.

After weeks of legal wrangling, the state’s highest court declared the seat vacant earlier this month.

The county’s Democratic Central Committee last week recommended three others: Vicky L. Orem, an orphans’ court judge; Clayton Aarons, an attorney; and Phillip Raines, a defense contractor. Swain, who also had sought the panel’s endorsement, was not included on the list.

Earlier, the panel withdrew its recommendation of Capitol Heights businessman Gregory A. Hall after O’Malley declined to appoint him.

Hall, 42, took part in a gun battle two decades ago that led to the death of seventh-grade honors student whose family was leaving church. Hall served 40 days in jail, but was later determined not to have fired the fatal bullet. He and his backers say he has turned his life around and could be a role model for others.

But O’Malley, who is considering a run for president, balked at the appointment and pressured the panel to withdraw the nomination, said several people familiar with the matter who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak about it.

Swain, assistant vice president for alumni relations at Bowie State University, had won support from State Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D), who previously had supported Hall.

Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), who chairs the county’s House delegation in Annapolis, wrote in a text message that she welcomed Swain and thought that his previous experience in Annapolis “will make him a valuable asset to our delegation.”

Swain will fill out Alston’s term, which expires next year. He will be one of three delegates in the 24th District, which includes Capitol Heights, District Heights, Fairmount Heights and Seat Pleasant, among other communities. Delegates are paid $43,500 for the part-time job.

Swain is expected to be sworn in Monday. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Miranda Spivack writes about government and politics in the suburbs, based in the Post’s bureau in Largo in Prince George’s County.
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