January 31, 2016

Washington Post: Miller to Hogan- When are you going to fill the empty Senate seat?

By Ovetta Wiggins

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) asked Gov. Larry Hogan (R) for a second time this week: When are you going to fill the empty Senate seat?

“We still have an empty seat back there,” Miller said before votes were taken during Friday’s session. “All we need is a letter.”

The Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee last week voted to nominate Del. Craig J. Zucker (D-Montomery) to fill the state Senate seat vacated by Karen S. Montgomery, who resigned this month.

Hogan hasn’t acted on the nomination. He has until Feb. 5.

“We’re reviewing the nomination,” said Matt Clark, a spokesman for Hogan.

Miller said earlier this week that the residents of District 14 in Montgomery County are not represented as votes continue to be taken.

Last week Miller postponed a vote on a veto override of a bill that would allow felons who are on parole and probation to vote. He said that the chamber would probably need Montgomery’s successor in place to muster the 29 votes necessary to overturn the veto. The bill passed the Senate last year with 29 votes.

On Friday, Miller said the seat needed to be filled “not for any one bill, but for all bills.”

Minority Whip Stephen S. Hershey Jr. (R-Kent) said he is certain the appointment will be made. But, he said, the nomination “might not be the top item” on Hogan’s agenda, given the recent snowstorm and preparing administration bills for introduction.

Hershey also said Hogan shouldn’t be accused of dragging his feet with the nomination when the county’s Democratic Central Committee took 21 days to send over its selection.

Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery) said the committee could not advertise for the position until Montgomery’s seat was officially vacant. Montgomery resigned in December, but her resignation did not become effective on Jan. 1.

Also on Friday, Alan Gross, the former U.S. Agency for International Development subcontractor who was imprisoned in Cuba for five years, received a citation from the Maryland Senate.

Gross, a former resident of Potomac, Md., said that people often ask him about his imprisonment.

“I’m focusing on the next five years, not the last five,” he said.

But Gross said that he is pleased that the United States has reestablished ties with Cuba after a more than 50-year embargo.

He said if the purpose of his imprisonment helped to improve diplomatic relations, then “I’m satisfied.”

Originally published by the Washington Post, available here.