(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

A controversial bill that would have given Maryland lawmakers a role in selecting the state superintendent was essentially killed Tuesday after its sponsors concluded they did not have enough support in the Democratic-controlled legislature to withstand a veto by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), the bill’s sponsor, decided Tuesday to send the measure back to the Senate’s Education Committee for further review. The action, taken halfway through the 90-day session, means a likely end to the legislation, which would have required the nominee for state superintendent of schools to be confirmed by the Senate.

“Mixing politics with education was an incredibly bad idea, and it’s great to see that the Senate came down on the right side of this issue,” said Hogan spokesman Doug Mayer.

Under current law, the schools superintendent is appointed by the Maryland State Board of Education, whose members are appointed by the governor.

The Senate initially planned to vote on the bill last Friday but postponed action after opponents questioned whether the measure was constitutional. On Monday, after being reassured by the state’s attorney’s office that the bill did not violate the separation of power provision in the state Constitution, the Senate scheduled a vote for Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, however, Pinsky said those plans have been shelved.

“Could I count 34 votes? Probably not,” Pinsky said, noting the number of votes that would have been needed for an override if the bill, which was submitted as emergency legislation, had passed and Hogan had chosen to veto it.

Hogan and other Republicans questioned why Democrats wanted to make a change in the century-old process of selecting a superintendent.

“It’s not broken,” Sen. George C. Edwards (R-Washington) said last week during a lengthy debate on the bill. “I think it’s worked over the last 100 years.”

Guffrie M. Smith Jr., the president of the state education board, told lawmakers recently that a new process could hurt the state’s ability to attract the best candidate for the position.

Pinsky said nearly a dozen other states, including New Jersey, have the same process he tried to create in Maryland. “I understand we haven’t done it this way in the past, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong to do it,” Pinsky said. “If the Senate buys in, they are more likely to support the person than if they don’t have buy-in.”

Del. Anne R. Kaiser (D-Montgomery), who sponsored the House version of the bill, noted that the Senate already confirms members of the governor’s cabinet and some 1,300 other positions in state government. “It is not so unusual,” said Kaiser, who called the bill a “good governance” measure.

The state board plans to name a new superintendent later this year. The position is held by interim superintendent Jack Smith, who took over when Lillian Lowery resigned in September. Smith was recently chosen as the new Montgomery County superintendent.

Hogan has pushed some education policies that have not been received well by the legislature, including a measure last year to give charter schools greater authority and a proposal this year to provide tax credits to businesses that donate to schools. The tax credit is expected to help non-public schools more than public schools.

Pinsky said Tuesday that the General Assembly would take a more active role in education policy if a new superintendent “goes off the rails.” Pinsky said he worries about vouchers and any effort to privatize public schools.

“If they move forward with a superintendent who is not in the mainstream, who starts to promote policies not in keeping with the legislature, we’ll just have to be more actively engaged,” he said.