Riddick quits position in State House

Glendening confidant might run for office

May 05, 2001|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Major F. Riddick Jr., Gov. Parris N. Glendening's closest aide and political confidant for more than a decade, is leaving his State House post while he continues to explore the possibility of running for Prince George's County executive.

Riddick and the governor said yesterday that they made the decision to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest between his roles as chief of staff and potential candidate.

Glendening named Al Collins, 54. a deputy chief of staff and former secretary of human resources, as Riddick's replacement. Riddick will stay on to help with the transition, then move into a paid state job coordinating information technology initiatives.

Riddick's move was a surprise only in its timing. He acknowledged about a year ago that he was considering a race and has been making regular appearances at events in the county. It has been widely expected that he would leave his $154,640-a-year post later this year, but he said yesterday that he would leave now to allay concerns that his job gives him an unfair advantage over his prospective rivals.

Glendening, a former Prince George's executive, issued a statement praising the 50-year-old aide as "one of my most valued advisers" and hinting at a potential future endorsement.

"I will continue to value his advice and look forward to supporting him in new endeavors," the governor said.

Riddick, who had served as Glendening's chief aide in Prince George's, has been the governor's chief of staff since he took office in 1995. The first African-American in that post in Maryland, he has been a key liaison between Glendening and the black community.

Riddick's early tenure was marked by contention, largely because of his role in an issue over generous pension benefits awarded to himself, Glendening and other Prince George's officials as they left the county payroll.

When the payments were revealed, Glendening and Riddick decided to forgo the payments until after they left state service, but the pension issue left a cloud over the administration for most of the governor's first term.

Riddick also ran into contention over his management style, but Glendening's support for him never wavered. Since Glendening's re-election in 1998, he has continued a powerful role but has largely avoided the limelight.

Riddick's new job, which he said he would leave if he decides to run for executive, is consistent with his longtime role as the governor's chief adviser on information technology matters. He is credited with pushing aggressively to move state services onto the Internet.

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