Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes yesterday appointed Prince George's County State Sen. John J. Garrity to the Court of Special Appeals, culminating months of lobbying by county politicians on behalf of Garrity, whose seat in the senate was lost through redistricting.
Hughes' office was flooded with letters of recommendation in behalf of Garrity, a quiet, pipe-smoking former prosecutor. Among those who worked for the appointment were Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller, the head of the county's senate delegation, long-time county political power broker Peter F. O'Malley and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer.
Yesterday afternoon their work paid dividends. Hughes aide John Griffin, who once worked for Garrity, called Garrity and suggested he call the governor.
"I've waited eight years for this day and I'm glad they let John deliver the news," said an elated Garrity. "When I called the governor he said, 'when can you start?' "
The Prince Georgians have awaited word from Hughes since the end of the legislative session in April. Last month, when Hughes formally announced his candidacy for reelection, Hoyer reportedly considered not attending the announcement because Hughes had not yet made the appointment. Two weeks ago Miller went with Hughes on a campaign swing through southern Maryland, trying to get a firm commitment.
The wait angered some county politicians, who made growling noises about not supporting Hughes if Garrity was not appointed.
According to members of Hughes' staff, the governor was simply doing what he has done with all judicial appointments: taking his time and being very careful in his selection.
"The governor has always had this image thing about not appointing elected officials because it would look political," said one county politician yesterday. "Garrity is more than qualified for the job and he realized it and didn't worry about image for once. This may be a step in the right direction for him--as a politician.
Garrity, 48, served one term on the County Council, one term in the House of Delegates and one in the state Senate. One of the things that apparently influenced Hughes was his record as an appellate attorney: in 60 cases Garrity won reversal 60 percent of the time. The average is closer to 20 percent.