Howard County will lose two of its three state senators today but it's only a temporary condition.
Both Republican state senators, Martin G. Madden and Christopher J. McCabe, officially leave their posts today, but the vacant seats should be filled within two weeks, if not sooner, officials said. Until they are, Columbia Democrat Edward J. Kasemeyer is the county's only senator.
If Gov. Parris N. Glendening acts quickly, Sandra Schrader, Madden's legislative aide for 11 years, could be sworn in as the senator's replacement before the General Assembly convenes for its 90-day session Wednesday.
Del. Robert H. Kittleman shouldn't be far behind in taking McCabe's Senate seat. Naming a replacement for Kittleman in the House of Delegates might take a bit longer, according to county Republican Party Chairman Louis M. Pope.
"It's just formality," Kittleman said of Glendening's official selection of him to fill the vacant seat. Referring to friction between the Democratic governor and himself in his former role as Republican leader in the House of Delegates, he added, "He'll probably just hold his breath and do it."
Madden is resigning his post to return to work in his insurance business. "I'm very much at ease, very much at peace with my decision," he said.
For her part, Schrader acknowledges feeling nervous at the prospect of filling Madden's shoes.
"It is a little strange being there [in Madden's Annapolis office] trying to help Marty finish up and make the transition," she said.
McCabe resigned to take a position in the Bush administration.
After spending last week in his new intergovernmental liaison job in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, McCabe said he's "tremendously excited" about his new duties.
Losing two popular incumbents might be considered a blow to the Republican Party in Howard, but not in Pope's eyes.
"It does give us an opportunity to put additional people on the front line in Annapolis, and it gives us a very competitive candidate for the future," he said, referring to Schrader. Kittleman is already known is his district, which is considered solidly Republican.
Wendy Fiedler, chairwoman of Howard's Democratic Party, doesn't see it that way.
"Whoever comes to take [Madden's and McCabe's] places won't have the same benefit of a long-term incumbency. It does help. It gives us an advantage," she said.
Fiedler acknowledged that Kittleman's five terms in the House might be hard to beat. But Democrats have high hopes of capturing Madden's 13th District seat. Veteran Howard County Councilman C. Vernon Gray is expected to seek it.