Maryland State Sen. Meyer M. Emanuel Jr., regarded as the intellectual of the Prince George's County Democratic delegation to the General Assembly, has announced his resignation from office.
Emanuel said the immediate reason for his resignation was his plan to move to a farm outside of his Hyattsville legislative district. But the respected independent senator also said he was ending his 15-year career at the legislature because he had grown weary of the often ineffective political process.
"I decided that the time consumed in the legislative session was getting very costly to me. Lately, the assembly seemed more and more like a steam engine going up a hill and getting nowhere. People standing on the floor talking their heads off but avoiding major issues, the filibusters last year, I've had too many years of it," Emanuel said.
A certified public accountant, the 58-year-old Emanuel often rushed from the floor of the Senate to nearby lobby telephones to keep up his business during the tax season, which coincides with the legislative session.
"I want to devotemy remaining years to my family, our future security and my business. There have been great rewards, though, mostly helping people," he said.
First elected to the House of Delegates in 1962, Emanuel quickly became known as a liberal Democrat too independent to be controlled by the county party organization. Even though he was not a favorite of the reigning party leadership, Emanuel himself would frequently defend the bloc politics of State Sen. Steny H. Hoyer and Peter F. O' Malley as an effective tool for change.
"Liberal" was a label Emanuel disliked in conservative Hyattsville. "Call me antiestablishment if you must," he once said. The legislator with the well-wrinkled face and raspy-voiced fueled by dozens of menthol cigarettes each day was one of the few senators who could command respect from all his colleagues.
Primarily, Emanuel was known for his practiced hand at weeding out errors and possible conlicts of interest in the budget, for his support of once-controversial issues like legalized, civil rights and home rule in Prince George's County.
And despite his complaints about last session's filibusters, Emanuel was also known as bit of grandstander himself, a senator who couldn't resist speaking on any controversial issue on the floor.
The county Democratic Central Committee has 30 days now to nominate a replacement for Emanuel whose resignation is effective Dec. 31. The nominee must then be formally approved by the governor.
Foremost among the contenders is Lance Billingsley, a county lawyer who is chairman of the central committee. Del John J. Garrity, A Democrat from Emanuel's district, is also under serious consideration but he is vying for a judgeship in the District Court of Prince George's.
Even though Emanuel describes himself as a private citizen now, he did say he was not only moving to a farm in Clinton but to the Fourth Congressional District.
Does that mean he has plans to challenge U.S. Rep. Marjorie S. Holt the conservative Republican? "Just say I'm moving to the Fourth," said Emanuel with a chuckle.