ANNAPOLIS – With little surprise, legislators voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to make Montgomery County Delegate Nancy Kopp the new state treasurer.
So sure of her victory, some took the opportunity to submit ersatz write- in candidates that drew guffaws from the crowd, including a legislative aide to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Calvert, who garnered five votes, and a former New York Knicks player. And news cameras all turned to Kopp well before her victory.
Kopp was touched by the support.
“Thank you so much for your vote of confidence in me,” she said after her victory was announced.
The 58-year-old received 135 of the possible 188 green secret ballots.
Delegate Pauline Menes, D-Prince George’s, came in second with 33 votes. H. Robert Hergenroeder, a former state delegate, got 4 votes. John W. Douglass, who dropped out of the race last week, received 2 votes. And Aurangzeb Baig, a business owner from Ellicott City, received one vote.
Kopp had emerged as a favorite for the position after garnering a broad base of support in the last few weeks, including endorsements from Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr., D-Allegany, the Republican Caucus, Legislative Black Caucus, and a joint nomination with Menes from the Women’s Caucus.
Kopp also received the official nod from the special panel designated to recommend one of the candidates to the Legislature. Her considerable support became most evident during the panel’s hearing last Thursday.
The panel was to interview treasurer candidates and vote to recommend one. But no questions were asked of the other candidates, and some panel members wished to cast their vote before the interviews. Kopp received 86 percent of the 28 possible votes.
The treasurer post became open after Richard N. Dixon announced he would step down Feb. 1 due to advancing diabetes. Kopp will complete the last year of his term before facing another election in 2003 for the next four-year term.
As treasurer, Kopp will be paid $100,000 annually to oversee the $30 million to $400 million of revenue that flows into state coffers each day.
She also will play an influential role on the Board of Public Works, which approves state spending and contracts. Dixon became known for casting the deciding vote since the board’s other two members, Gov. Parris N. Glendening and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, often clash.
Currently, the board is in the process of deciding on appeals to school construction funds. The governor’s capital budget left school construction requests $160 million short. Thirteen districts are appealing to the board for more money, and Montgomery County is one of them.
Although Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan expressed relief today that an official from his home county will help allocate those funds, Kopp said she wouldn’t play favorites.
During her run, Kopp said she wished to represent the state, not a particular region.
Kopp will also sit on the pension board. Last year, the board came under scrutiny after losing $3 billion and balking at suggestions to hire an outside consultant to guide investments. Kopp said she would take a prudent approach and work toward its full funding. The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee will choose Kopp’s successor in the General Assembly Feb. 12. And Kopp will be sworn in as treasurer during the next week. Her career has been limited to government service but much of that time was spent on public finance. During her 27 years in the House, she has been a member of the House Appropriations Committee and has served in numerous fiscal positions, including the Spending Affordability Committee, the Joint Committee on State Economic Development Initiatives, the Special Joint Committee on Competitive Taxation and Economic Development and the Joint Legislative and Executive Committee on Pensions.
Before election to the General Assembly, she worked as a legislative aide to Congress and the House of Delegates for 8 years.