Black legislative group endorses Kopp for treasurer

Douglass' withdrawal eases caucus decision

January 30, 2002|By Sarah Koenig | Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF

Black lawmakers endorsed Del. Nancy K. Kopp for state treasurer yesterday, adding another bloc of votes to her already considerable support in the General Assembly.

The Legislative Black Caucus' decision was eased by the withdrawal of John W. Douglass, the only African-American in the race to replace Richard N. Dixon, who also is black.

Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden of Baltimore announced Douglass' decision to withdraw during the closed-door interview of Kopp by caucus members, and added that Douglass was throwing his support behind her.

The General Assembly chooses the state treasurer, giving candidates who are sitting lawmakers a great advantage. Douglass, who works for the state Department of Assessments and Taxation, left the legislature in 1994.

Del. Talmadge Branch of Baltimore, the caucus chairman, said Douglass' decision to drop out greatly simplified the situation for members. "I'm sure he would have gotten some votes," he said.

Branch added that Kopp, a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, got a "substantial" number of ballots from the caucus, which has 38 members.

Her qualifications for the job were abundant, he added, saying she understands budget intricacies and spending limits.

Yesterday's endorsement joins other important legislative voices cheering for Kopp.

She has support from House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., from her Montgomery County colleagues and from House Appropriations Chairman Howard P. Rawlings.

The treasurer, who oversees the state's investments and disbursements, also sits on the three-member Board of Public Works, which votes on major state contracts.

In response to a question about minority business participation in state contracts, Kopp said, she told the group she would "encourage minority access," especially in banking and investment.

Kopp said she also talked about the need to lower the maximum percentage of stocks the state pension board should hold in its portfolio.

"We are talking about a pension system," she said. "It's different from about some individual person's portfolio."

The pension board, of which the treasurer is a member, has come under scrutiny since a $3 billion investment loss last year.

Kopp also said she looked forward to working on the Board of Public Works with Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer.

A legislative committee will interview candidates tomorrow and choose a nominee. The entire General Assembly will make its final decision Tuesday.

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