State treasurer likely to stay on

House speaker says she should keep post

January 05, 2007|By Andrew A. Green | Andrew A. Green,Sun reporter

Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp appears likely to keep her job, despite the efforts of some legislators who were pushing for a change to bring racial diversity to the Board of Public Works, a key panel on which she sits.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch - who holds significant influence over the selection of the treasurer - said yesterday that he believes she should stay.

"I think Nancy Kopp has done an outstanding job as treasurer of the state of Maryland," Busch said. "She was an outstanding legislator on the appropriations committee and understands the fiscal structure of the state of Maryland. She has done a phenomenal job the last four years. There is no substantive reason to remove Treasurer Kopp."

Treasurers are selected by a majority vote of the legislature, but because delegates outnumber senators 3-1, the House of Delegates effectively gets to fill the office.

Busch said he does not think many members in his chamber are inclined to replace her, and, in any case, the power structure of the House is such that his endorsement would likely be enough to guarantee her the spot.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller has said that he would be open to a change if Kopp wanted to move on, but she indicated this week that she hopes to stay in the post.

Kopp, 63, a former Democratic delegate from Montgomery County, has been treasurer since 2002.

Racial politics have been a sensitive topic in Maryland lately. Blacks make up about 29 percent of the state population, and a higher proportion of Democratic voters.

When Democrats nominated former Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin for U.S. Senate over former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, many black leaders expressed concern. Cardin defeated Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a black Republican, with racial issues playing a role in the campaign. He was sworn in as a senator yesterday.

A number of African-American delegates and senators pushed this fall to replace Kopp with former Del. Rushern L. Baker III to add racial and geographic balance to the Board of Public Works, a powerful three-member body that votes on nearly all state contracts.

Baker is African-American and is from Prince George's County.

If Kopp stays, she and Comptroller-elect Peter Franchot would give Montgomery County a two-member majority on the board.

With Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley, the board would be all white, as it has been since 2002, when former Treasurer Richard N. Dixon retired from the post.

andy.green@baltsun.com

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