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Prince George’s Democrats press O’Malley to sign off on Alston replacement


Prince George's Del. Tiffany Alston (R) held back tears as she and her attorney Raouf Abdullah listened to a question from a reporter outside of the Anne Arundel County Circuit Courthouse on Tuesday, October 09, 2012 in Annapolis, Md. (Mark Gail/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Prince George’s County Democrats are pressing Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to sign off on the man nominated to succeed former state lawmaker Tiffany Alston.

The governor has balked at the selection of local businessman Greg Hall, whose troubled past includes drug dealing and a handgun conviction from two decades ago.

In an online posting, the county’s Young Democrats organization asks: “Governor O’Malley, do you believe in redemption?” The group is urging Hall’s supporters to call the governor’s office on Monday to tell him to finalize the appointment.

Hall, a former County Council aide from Capitol Heights, has “become an example to young people who have had troubled lives, showing them that they can turn their lives around and make a positive impact on their communities,” according to the post.

By law, the governor had 15 days from the time local Democrats chose Alston’s successor on Nov. 2 to approve the nomination.

Alston (D) was removed from office last month after she was convicted in a misconduct case on charges of stealing $800 from the General Assembly to pay an employee of her private law firm.

Alston had hoped to return to the Maryland House of Delegates after a judge modified her sentence this month to probation, essentially striking the guilty conviction. But the state’s attorney general affirmed last week that Alston was permanently removed from office at the time of her sentencing.

The county’s Democratic Central Committee earlier this month picked Hall, who fell 310 votes short of winning the seat in 2010 and had the endorsement of state Sen. Joanne Benson (D-Prince George’s).

Even so, O’Malley’s spokeswoman said last week that the governor is not prepared to approve Hall’s nomination. So far, the central committee has declined to withdraw Hall’s selection despite O’Malley’s request.

But Terry Speigner, chairman of the Central Committee, has scheduled a meeting for Monday night to again discuss the governor’s request and to get legal advice from an attorney for the state Democratic Party. Hall has hired a lawyer to try to prevent the committee from pulling his nomination.

O’Malley’s spokeswoman would not specify why the governor would not sign off on Hall, but Republicans have jumped on the issue.

Larry Hogan, the appointments secretary to former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), highlighted the controversy in a posting to his Facebook page Sunday. He chastised O’Malley for considering the replacement of a “convicted delegate” with a convicted “gun offender.”

Hogan, who is thinking about running for the GOP nomination for governor in 2014, blamed it on the state’s elected Democrats, who hold majorities in both houses of the General Assembly and control all of Maryland’s statewide offices.

“This is what is currently happening in Annapolis,” Hogan wrote, “because the arrogant monopoly, with no checks and balances, has no sense of accountability and thinks they can get away with doing whatever they want.”

John Wagner contributed to this report.

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