WASHINGTON – Prince George’s County Delegate James C. Rosapepe, a Democrat known for his strong views on education and tax policy, has been nominated as ambassador to Romania, the White House announced Thursday.
Rosapepe, 46, a consultant and veteran Maryland legislator, was named by President Clinton in 1995 to the board of the Albanian American Enterprise Fund, a $30 million investment fund that promotes business development in Albania.
In a prepared statement, Rosapepe said he was “profoundly honored” to be nominated as ambassador to Romania, an East European nation of 23 million that once was part of the communist bloc.
“America’s national security and our economic future are intertwined with the successful integration of Central Europe’s former communist countries into the democratic and market- oriented institutions of the West,” said Rosapepe.
First elected to the Maryland legislature in 1986, Rosapepe serves as vice chair of the Ways and Means Committee. He has advocated higher taxes to fund education in Maryland and pushed for campaign-finance reforms.
“He is a very outspoken liberal Democrat who is effective in advocating the issues that are important to him,” said Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, speaker of the House of Delegates.
“I think he will be a credit to his country and to his state and to the institution he is leaving as he serves as our ambassador to Romania.”
Gov. Parris Glendening, a fellow Democrat, echoed that sentiment. “This is a great honor for Delegate Rosapepe, a great honor for Prince George’s County and a great honor for the state of Maryland,” Glendening said through spokesman Ray Feldman.
Rosapepe is president of Rosapepe and Spanos, a Washington- based public policy consulting firm. He also chairs Maryland’s Sister State Committee with St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region, Russia, which coordinates legal, business and cultural exchanges.
As ambassador, Rosapepe would be dealing with issues that are far different from those he faces in Maryland.
Romania has made great strides toward democracy and a free- market economy since its emergence from Communism in 1989. But Helmut Sonnenfeldt, guest scholar in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution, said the country is still struggling economically and also trying to form stronger alliances with the West.
Romania wanted to join NATO at the organization’s July conference in Madrid, Spain, Sonnenfeldt said. “The French were actively promoting them for membership,” but the Clinton administration felt Romania had not come far enough in establishing democratic institutions, he said.
“The administration’s attitude was not negative, it was just `not now.'”
Rosapepe might be “subjected to wooing and campaigning by the Romanians to be included” in NATO, Sonnenfeldt said.
In his statement, Rosapepe said that “as U.S. ambassador, I would have an unparalleled opportunity to serve our country by helping to lead America’s efforts to support Romania’s transition and to strengthen economic and political ties between our nations.”
Rosapepe, who would replace Alfred Moses as ambassador, must be confirmed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. If confirmed, he will resign his House of Delegates seat.
Rosapepe is married to Sheilah Kast, host of Public Television’s “This Week in Business.”