Kelly quits Cabinet and '94 bid Secretary of state to run care system

February 20, 1993|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Staff Writer

Winfield M. Kelly Jr. will resign as Maryland's secretary of state and abandon his long-shot campaign for governor to run a medical care system in Prince George's County.

The Schaefer appointee said yesterday that he will become president and chief executive officer of the Landover-based Dimensions Health Corp. in April, filling a vacancy created by William L. Jews' move to Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Maryland.

Mr. Kelly, 57, recently stepped down as chairman of the board of directors of the nonprofit health corporation as a step toward taking the $295,000-a-year job. Dimensions Health operates Prince George's Hospital Center, Greater Laurel Beltsville Hospital and three other medical facilities in that county.

While he was deciding to end his decades in politics, Mr. Kelly said, he thought about the "unfair" confirmation process that John S. Arnick underwent during the past two weeks before giving up his pursuit of a District Court judgeship amid allegations that he used lewd, racist and sexist language.

Mr. Kelly said he does not mind public scrutiny, but he believes the review of Mr. Arnick's conduct should have been completed before he gave up his law and legislative careers. The Arnick episode "was not a major factor" in his own decision, Mr. Kelly said, adding that he wanted to spend more time with his family. He lives in Mitchellville.

Mr. Kelly said his resignation from the $70,000-a-year job as secretary of state will take effect as soon as Gov. William Donald Schaefer can name a replacement. The secretary of state oversees charitable organizations, the registration of notaries and extradition of prisoners.

Mr. Kelly, a longtime Democratic officeholder who was Prince George's county executive from 1974 to 1978, said he is done with politics.

"I decided the best thing would be to move from public life to private life. I will not return to public life."

Mr. Kelly's decision to ditch his gubernatorial campaign leaves three Democrats and two Republicans as possible candidates in 1994.

The Democrats are Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Prince George's County Executive Parris N. Glendening. The Republicans are Anne Arundel County Executive Robert R. Neall and former U.S. Sen. William E. Brock.

Mr. Kelly said he will run Dimensions Health Corp. for a year beginning in April to "help stabilize the hospitals" after Mr. Jews' departure. Mr. Kelly ran the corporation before the governor appointed him secretary of state in February 1987. As secretary of state, he spoke out against illegally operated charities in an effort to keep Marylanders from donating to fraudulent concerns.

His business career began with a single food-service truck when Mr. Kelly was in his teens. He parlayed "Winnie's Chuck Wagon" into a 150-truck, 500-employee business that made him wealthy. He sold the firm in 1968, and he later invested in the cable television industry.

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