Ehrlich Names Kullen to Finish Owings's Term
By Raymond McCaffrey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 11, 2004; Page SM03
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) appointed Democrat Sue Kullen to succeed George W. Owings III in the Maryland House of Delegates, making her the first woman to represent Calvert County in the General Assembly.
Kullen said a tentative swearing-in date has been set for next month with House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel).
"We're shooting for August 4, at high noon," she said.
"We really want a lot of people from Calvert County to go. . . . The Southern Maryland delegation will be hosting a reception afterward, so it will be a date for Calvert in the State House," she said.
The appointment, announced Wednesday by the governor's office, came roughly two weeks after Kullen's nomination June 24 by the Calvert County Democratic Central Committee. In accordance with the process for filling legislative vacancies, the Democratic committee nominated a replacement for Owings because he is a Democrat. Owings resigned as a delegate after Ehrlich appointed him secretary of veterans affairs.
Kullen said she learned of her appointment during a meeting with Ehrlich in Annapolis the day before it was made public.
"He was very positive," Kullen said. "He said, 'We'll make it formal with a press release.' It was nice seeing it in writing."
Kullen, a consultant who works with disabled people and agencies serving them, won out over five other Democratic applicants in getting the Central Committee's support for the legislative seat, which represents most of northern Calvert.
She emerged as a compromise candidate when members of the Central Committee deadlocked in deciding the nomination. Acknowledging that the Central Committee passed over more experienced candidates when it selected her, Kullen said Calvert residents have been "very diplomatic" since her nomination.
"When they see the new direction, people are just generally excited about it," Kullen said. "Some folks were just not expecting a change."
Kullen also acknowledged that Central Committee members were "taking a risk here."
"I keep telling people I'm not going to let anybody down," she said.
Democrats wanted Owings's replacement to be a strong candidate to retain the seat in the 2006 election. Kullen, 44, has served 10 years as a governor's appointee on the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Planning Council but has never held major elective office.
"Last week we had our first campaign strategy meeting, and we'll be meeting once a week for a while," Kullen said.
Kullen's political organization is so new that, upon receiving her first donation from a supporter, she had to return the check because she had not yet selected someone to oversee her campaign finances.
"But I told the person they had the distinction of being the first one to give me funds," Kullen said.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company