Forced to pick between two Republicans, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) on Wednesday appointed Del. Stephen S. Hershey Jr. (R-Queen Anne’s) to fill a vacant seat in the state Senate.
The selection ended weeks of wrangling and back-room intrigue among Republicans in four counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, who could not reach a consensus on who should succeed Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-Cecil). The former minority leader announced his resignation last month to pursue a new career in sports management.
The GOP central committees in the four counties split evenly on a District 36 successor, with Kent and Caroline choosing Hershey and Queen Anne’s and Cecil picking Del. Michael D. Smigiel Sr. (R-Cecil). Under the state Constitution, that left it to the Democratic governor to pick a winner.
“In discharging my Constitutional duty of selecting just one of these candidates, I am guided not by which candidate I would prefer, but rather by which candidate has demonstrated the broadest electoral support in the district,” O’Malley said in a statement Wednesday.
O’Malley said Hershey had done that in both the last general election and in the balloting among the four central committees.