Responding to a string of retirements from the Baltimore County legislative delegation, the Democratic Central Committee has nominated interim appointees to replace three lawmakers and is prepared to nominate a fourth, setting the stage for the fall elections.
The appointees will hold their seats only until January and, barring an unforeseen special session, won't have any official duties. But many of those who applied for the slots are running in the November elections -- and are hoping an interim appointment will give them an edge.
That jockeying was on display Thursday as committee members interviewed candidates to replace former Del. Michael J. Finifter of the 11th District, who has been named a Circuit Court judge. Five men applied for the post; three of them plan to run for the seat.
The committee nominated Dana Stein, who runs Civic Works, a Baltimore-based nonprofit youth service corps. Stein is also chairman of the central committee. He will face off in the September primary against Melvin Mintz, who served two terms on the County Council, and Theodore Levin, who was a delegate from 1975 to 1995.
A fifth candidate has also declared for the race: attorney Jon Cardin, who is a nephew of U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin.
The 6th District seat vacated by Sen. Michael J. Collins on the county's east side is also attracting a great deal of attention. Central committee members from that district said they will recommend someone late this month, and it's likely that one or more state delegates will apply for the interim appointment.
The other two nominations were more straightforward. The committee voted to appoint John F. Quirk, a Baltimore County firefighter and central committee member, to the seat in District 47b being vacated by Del. Thomas Dewberry.
That district was eliminated in this year's redistricting process, and Quirk said he has no plans to run in November.
In the 8th District in the White Marsh area, the committee chose John R. Schneider to replace Sen. Thomas L. Bromwell, who resigned to become the head of the state Injured Workers Insurance Fund.
Bromwell almost took the same job two years ago, and Schneider was in line to get the appointment then, as well. At that time, the appointment generated a dispute when Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller questioned Schneider's credentials, fearing he would lose to a Republican in the next election.
Circumstances are different this time. Schneider does not plan to run for the seat and will merely hold the seat for the next six months.