Montgomery County Democrats nominated Morgan State University professor Pamela Queen to fill the District 14 State House vacancy on Thursday night, ending an intramural scuffle over how best to diversify the county’s legislative delegation.
Queen would replace former Del. Craig Zucker (D-Montgomery), who was selected by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee last month to fill the opening created by the retirement of state Sen. Karen Montgomery. Queen’s nomination goes to Gov. Larry Hogan, who is required by law to act on it within 15 days. Although Hogan is a Republican, it is exceedingly rare for a governor to reject the recommendation of a county committee in such matters.
Queen, 56, is African American and a central committee member. She prevailed over two other candidates for the opening in District 14, which runs north from Silver Spring along Montgomery’s eastern border with Prince George’s County and includes some of its most economically distressed communities. She was supported by County Executive Isiah Leggett.
[Montgomery Democrats tap Zucker to fill state senate seat]
Former delegate Herman Taylor, 49, an African American who represented District 14 from 2002 to 2010, was backed by County Council members Craig Rice (D-Germantown), Nancy Navarro (D-Silver Spring), Sidney Katz (D-Gaithersburg) and George Leventhal (D-At Large), who emphasized his experience in Annapolis.
Also competing for the spot was Mark Feinroth, 57, a lobbyist for the Maryland Association of Realtors and a veteran party activist.
Speaking to the committee Thursday night, Taylor cited his advocacy for the disabled and the unemployed in the General Assembly, which he left in 2010 to unsuccessfully challenge Rep. Donna F. Edwards in the Democratic primary for Maryland’s 4th Congressional District seat.
“Send me back because East County is broken,” said Taylor, who also competed for the senate vacancy filled by Zucker. “Our career centers are broken . . . our schools are in trouble.” The decision was not about race, he said, but “about the ability to go to Annapolis on Day 1 and address the needs of the residents who are in dire need of help.”
But Taylor’s chances were hurt by his voting record on abortion and state support for related issues such as stem cell research, committee members said.
Queen, an assistant professor of business at Morgan State, who lives in Olney, offered her experience in economic development, finance and education. She also acknowledged concerns over diversity — only one other African American woman has represented Montgomery County in the General Assembly. Karen Britto served eight months in 2010 as a caretaker in District 16.
“I bring a new face, new ideas and a new direction for this county,” she said.
Queen received 17 of the committee’s 28 votes.