Saturday, January 24, 2015

Hogan's Instructions for Senate Vacancy May Have Been Contrary to Maryland Contitution

HAGERSTOWN, MD - It was recently reported by the Herald-Mail that Governor Hogan's office was in the process of sending instructions for the Washington County Republican Central Committee to nominate multiple candidates for the open Maryland Senate seat, previously held by Christopher Shank.

Further research shows that Governor Hogan most likely cannot instruct a committee to nominate more than one candidate, as he would be in essence instructing them to ignore the state constitution. A book on Maryland Constitution, page 140-141, cites an Attorney General opinion from 1977: "The central committees are supposed to nominate only one candidate, "but if a central committee 'ignore[s] the clear intent of the Constitution and submit[s] the name of two or more qualified persons to the Governor, the Governor cannot ignore the names . . . [but] must appoint one of these persons to the vacancy.' 62 Op. Att'y Gen. 241 (October 19, 1977)"

The Maryland Constitution states:
SEC. 13. (a) (1) In case of death, disqualification, resignation, refusal to act, expulsion, or removal from the county or city for which he shall have been elected, of any person who shall have been chosen as a Delegate or Senator, or in case of a tie between two or more such qualified persons, the Governor shall appoint a person to fill such vacancy from a person whose name shall be submitted to him in writing, within thirty days after the occurrence of the vacancy, by the Central Committee of the political party, if any, with which the Delegate or Senator, so vacating, had been affiliated, at the time of the last election or appointment of the vacating Senator or Delegate, in the County or District from which he or she was appointed or elected, provided that the appointee shall be of the same political party, if any, as was that of the Delegate or Senator, whose office is to be filled, at the time of the last election or appointment of the vacating Delegate or Senator, and it shall be the duty of the Governor to make said appointment within fifteen days after the submission thereof to him.
... currently non-relevant section omitted ...
(b) In addition, and in submitting a name to the Governor to fill a vacancy in a legislative or delegate district, as the case may be, in any of the twenty-three counties of Maryland, the Central Committee or committees shall follow these provisions:
(1) If the vacancy occurs in a district having the same boundaries as a county, the Central Committee of the county shall submit the name of a resident of the district.
(2) If the vacancy occurs in a district which has boundaries comprising a portion of one county, the Central Committee of that county shall submit the name of a resident of the district.
(3) If the vacancy occurs in a district which has boundaries comprising a portion or all of two or more counties, the Central Committee of each county involved shall have one vote for submitting the name of a resident of the district; and if there is a tie vote between or among the Central Committees, the list of names there proposed shall be submitted to the Governor, and he shall make the appointment from the list (amended by Chapter 584, Acts of 1935, ratified Nov. 3, 1936; Chapter 162, Acts of 1966, ratified Nov. 8, 1966; Chapter 681, Acts of 1977, ratified Nov. 7, 1978; Chapter 649, Acts of 1986, ratified Nov. 4, 1986).
Any instructions by Governor Hogan to the Central Committee to submit multiple names for the vacancy would be a violation of the Maryland constitution. The only time a list of names should be submitted under the Maryland Constitution is if a district comprises of multiple counties.

Simply put, the Washington County Republican Central Committee followed the Maryland Constitution appropriately.

Ken Buckler is the editor of the WashCo Chronicle

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