Gov. Martin O’Malley tapped former delegate Darren Swain on Friday to fill the vacancy left by the ouster of Del. Tiffany Alston, ignoring the recommendation of the Prince George’s Democratic Central Committee.
Swain, 42, had won the backing of County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who previously maintained that he was staying neutral.
Alston, a first-term Democratic lawmaker, was removed from office in October after she was sentenced on a misconduct conviction for stealing $800 from the General Assembly to pay an employee of her law firm.
After weeks of legal wrangling, the state’s highest court declared the seat vacant this month.
The county’s Democratic Central Committee last week recommended three prospects: Vicky L. Orem, an orphans’ court judge; Clayton Aarons, a lawyer; and Phillip Raines, a defense contractor. Swain, who also had sought the panel’s endorsement, was not on the list.
Terry Speigner, chairman of the central committee, declined to comment on the governor’s decision to ignore the panel’s recommendations.
Earlier, the panel withdrew its recommendation of Capitol Heights businessman Gregory A. Hall after O’Malley (D) declined to appoint him. Hall, 42, took part in a gun fight two decades ago that led to the death of seventh-grade honors student. Hall served 40 days in jail but was later determined not to have fired the fatal bullet. He and his backers say he has turned his life around.
But O’Malley, who is considering a run for president, balked at the appointment and pressured the panel to withdraw the nomination, according to several people familiar with the matter who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak.
Swain, assistant vice president for alumni relations at Bowie State University, had won support from state Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-Prince George’s), who previously had supported Hall.
Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), chairman of the county’s House delegation in Annapolis, wrote in a text message that she welcomed Swain and thought that his previous experience in Annapolis “will make him a valuable asset to our delegation.”
Swain will fill out Alston’s term, which expires next year. He will be one of three delegates in the 24th District, which includes Capitol Heights, District Heights, Fairmount Heights and Seat Pleasant. Delegates are paid $43,500 for the part-time job.
Swain is expected to be sworn in Monday. He did not respond to requests for comment.