D20 Vacancy: Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game?

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Having posted the MCDCC’s D20 Senate vacancy announcement while in the process of buying a new oven at Sears last night, I didn’t get much of a chance to actually read the thing until this morning.

Having now done so, all I can say is I think that email set some kind of record for highest number of significant and material errors per square inch. It’s simultaneously fascinating and appalling, like a bad horror movie you can’t look away from.

Let’s begin with timing. The process for filling a legislative vacancy is spelled out in some detail in the Maryland Constitution, Article III, Section 13. The relevant central committee (in this case, MCDCC) has thirty days after the “occurrence of the vacancy” in which to nominate a replacement. So when did the vacancy occur? Well, we start by looking at the letter Jamie Raskin sent to Senate President Mike Miller on November 10.


The date of resignation is utterly clear from the very first sentence. “I hereby tender my resignation from the Maryland Senate effective today.”

So the MCDCC has thirty days from November 10 in which to submit a name to Governor Larry Hogan.

When’s the meeting scheduled to name the replacement?

December 13. 33 days after Raskin’s resignation becomes effective.

Let that sink in for a minute. Now let’s move on.

Does the Constitution say anything about what happens if the MCDCC doesn’t send the governor a name within thirty days? Excellent question. Why yes it does.

(2) If a name is not submitted by the Central Committee within thirty days after the occurrence of the vacancy, the Governor within another period of fifteen days shall appoint a person, who shall be affiliated with 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 who is otherwise properly qualified to hold the office of Delegate or Senator in the District or County.

Short version, in English. If the MCDCC doesn’t do this right, the Republican governor of Maryland gets to pick ANY  qualified (more on this below) registered D20 Democrat as the next D20 senator. Doesn’t even have to be someone who applied to fill the vacancy. ANYONE.

Hey, this is just the most activist, hard core blue district in the state. I’m sure GOP Governor Larry Hogan will make a great choice for D20. I’m confident this will work out just fine, aren’t you?

All snark and sarcasm aside, how could this happen? It’s not like this is some sudden surprise. Jamie Raskin won the Democratic primary for CD8 more than SIX MONTHS AGO. Everyone knew that he was going to win the general election.  The MCDCC has had that entire time to figure out what needed to be done and when. How could such a fundamental and potentially disastrous error as this have happened?

In the immortal lament of Casey Stengel, manager of the worst team in modern baseball history, the 1962 New York Mets, “can’t anybody here play this game?”

You think an error of that magnitude would be sufficient for one email, right? Oh, no, grasshopper. In the slightly less immortal words of Billy Mays:


Basic question: what are the qualifications to be appointed to the vacancy? Don’t worry, the MCDCC is on the case:

The applicant may be a male or female, must be 18-years or older, be a registered Democrat, and must have resided in Legislative District 20 for at least one year prior to December 13, 2016.

One sentence, 36 words, and not one but two material errors. Impressive.

Let’s start with age. Does the Constitution speak to a minimum age requirement? Once again, why yes it does. Article III, Section 9 again.

A person is eligible to serve as a Senator, if he has attained the age of twenty-five years, or as a Delegate, if he has attained the age of twenty-one years, on the date of his election.

Not 18.

What about residence within the district? Anything that might help us answer that question? Actually, this one is a little more involved, but whatever the answer is, it’s not one year as the email states. Not only that, but this here blogger wrote about this issue almost a year ago. Maybe somebody should have read this? Additionally, having rather publicly applied a six month residency rule in 2016, how could the MCDCC not know what the right rule is less than a year later. I still maintain that the only requirement for a vacancy is residence on the date of appointment, but either way, the email is wrong.

So to summarize, an email advertising a legislative vacancy managed to misstate both the age and the residency requirement for the office. More seriously, the email also set a date that if followed, will forfeit county Democrats’ right to nominate a new D20 senator, and instead leave the choice in the unfettered discretion of Larry Hogan.

I’m sure that would sit fine here in District 20. Don’t you?

C’mon man!

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