ANNAPOLIS – Montgomery County Democratic Delegate Nancy Kopp emerged as a favorite for state treasurer Tuesday after winning endorsements from black lawmakers, women legislators and the House speaker.
The decision was made easier after John W. Douglass, a former black state delegate, withdrew and threw his support to Kopp, said Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, D-Baltimore. The move allowed the Legislative Black Caucus Tuesday night to endorse Kopp.
Lawmakers had been under some pressure to nominate another black candidate to replace Richard N. Dixon, who was the first African-American to serve as state treasurer. But Caucus Chairman Talmadge Branch, D-Baltimore, listed many reasons for supporting Kopp, including her financial background and her pledge to maintain an open-door relationship with the caucus.
She won a “substantial” number of votes, he said.
The General Assembly will choose the next treasurer Tuesday during a joint session. The new treasurer will complete the last year of Dixon’s term before facing another election in 2003 for the next four-year term.
Candidates from the House are typically favored since delegates outnumber senators by about 100 votes. All of the front-runners come out of the House, but Kopp has become a particular favorite since also receiving the endorsement of Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany.
The black caucus would bring 38 votes to Kopp’s candidacy. However, it is unclear whether the entire caucus would vote for Kopp when the time comes. Only about 23 members were present at Tuesday’s meeting, Branch said, and several of those members belong to the Prince George’s County Delegation, which has backed their own Prince George’s Democratic Delegate Pauline Menes.
Legislators vote by secret ballot to choose the treasurer.
Kopp is also likely to be strongly backed by members of her own Montgomery House Delegation.
Although Delegation Chairman Kumar Barve, D-Montgomery, said the group would not make an official endorsement, the 27-member delegation had previously expressed interest in forwarding a local candidate. Barve had been mentioned as a possible candidate if Kopp had declined the opportunity.
Kopp didn’t seek the endorsement from her delegation, saying she didn’t want to be seen as representing only one region, instead of the whole state.
Kopp and Menes were endorsed Wednesday by the Women’s Caucus.
The black caucus also interviewed Menes, as well as John S. Arnick, D- Baltimore County, and H. Robert Hergenroeder, a former state delegate from Timonium.
Arnick said he is considering withdrawing from the race, while Hergenroeder acknowledged he does not have the votes to win, but said he felt he should be considered.
With few other well-known candidates entering, Tuesday is likely to be a show-down between Menes and Kopp. Both have close to 30 years in the General Assembly.
Several candidates outside the Legislature have also applied for the position. However, it is considered difficult to garner the votes without significant lobbying effort. Those candidates are: Sam A. Ashai, of Highland; Aurangzeb Baig, of Ellicott City; Alfred J. Discepolo, of Ellicott City; Stuart Fishkin, of Montgomery County; Dwight D. Frush, of Silver Spring; Edward C. Gendron, of Columbia; Richard L. Hannon, of Glen Burnie; Maurice A. Jennings, of Alexandria, Va.; Al J. Kalnietis, of Millersville; Jay Christopher Pope, of Bel Air; Kumorr Ram, of Rockville; Russell L. Roebuck, of Winter Park, Fla.; William A. Scheiderich, of Edgewater; Keith Suggs, of Laurel; and Geoffrey A. VanderPal, of Baltimore.
– 30 – CNS-1-30-02