Harry R. Hughes Democratic nominee for governor of Maryland, yesterday asked Rosalie S. Abrams a state senator from Baltimore, to serve as the next Maryland party chairman after his first choice, Congresswoman Barbara A. Mikulski, turned down the job.
Mikulski, a popular Baltimore politician who is running for her second term in Congress, was concerned that the part-time job of party chairman would take away too much time from her Congressional duties, according a Hughes aide.
Abrams, a two-term state senator who counts among her allies both regular and reform Democrats, said Hughes asked her yesterday afternoon to become chairman. If Abrams is approved by the state central committee, she will be the first woman to head the Maryland party.
"It shows a great deal of independence on the part of Harry Hughes," she said. It's a new direction. The fact that he's interested in women shows he is looking to bring more people into the party.
The party chairmanship has been a largely ceremonial post in recent years. The chairman serves as a liason between the National Democratic Party and local central committees and helps coordinate state election and fund-raising drives.
Steny H Hoyer, the lameduck president of the state Senate had openly sought the post after the defeat of his ticket in the Sept. 12 gubernatorial primary. Hoyer had run for lieutenant governor on the ticket of Acting Gov. Blair Lee III. But Hughes ignored his bid, partly because Hoyer's Prince George's county Senate allies publicy lobbied for him before he discussed the job with Hughes.
Hoyer said yesterday he doubted that he would challenge Abrams when the party meets next week.Technicially, he could seek central committee approval himself, but that would defy the tradition of allowing the gubernatorial nominee make his own choice.
"I'm not dissapointed," said Hoyer, who lost as a candidate for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary. "There are a lot of hassles being party chairman. Rosalie is a capable person who is acceptable to me."