Delegate says she is not ready to leave General Assembly

Harrison, 74, to run against all-male ticket

July 31, 2002|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Opposing the political organization she helped found decades ago, Del. Hattie N. Harrison said yesterday that she will seek re-election against the all-male ticket her district's senator put together.

Harrison, 74, is the longest serving African-American woman in the history of the Maryland General Assembly. She said Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, chairman of the city Senate delegation and her senator in the 45th District, told her she was too old to continue serving and needed to step down so younger politicians could advance.

But Harrison, who was first elected in 1973, said she is not ready to leave the legislature. With the city losing four senators and 11 delegates, Harrison said she believes her position as one of three remaining African-American committee chairs will play a key role in support for Baltimore during the next legislative session. Harrison is chairwoman of the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee.

"This is not the time to throw mama from the train," Harrison said at a news conference yesterday.

McFadden, the head of the Eastside Democratic Organization (EDO) that Harrison helped found, said Harrison had said she was retiring so she was not included on his ticket for the September primary.

He said he did not just drop her from his ticket simply because of her age.

"I have too much respect for the woman to do that," McFadden said. "She said four years ago that she wasn't running again."

The dispute creates yet another tough political battle in Baltimore for this year's election. The EDO has long had a stronghold on the 45th District. Much of the political shake-up resulted from this year's redistricting process.

Maryland's redistricting plan reduced the total number of seats that Baltimore has in the legislature from 10 senators and 29 delegates to six senators and 18 delegates. Baltimore will have fewer representatives in large part because of a loss of 300,000 people over 30 years, moving the city down from the largest Maryland jurisdiction to fifth.

Harrison, who is deciding whether to form a ticket to oppose the EDO's candidates, could pose problems for McFadden, who has two challengers in the September primary.

Her ticket might include Robert Stokes, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee, and Kevin Parson, both of whom stood with Harrison during yesterday's news conference.

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