- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Maryland House Republicans chose a new leadership team Tuesday, electing Dels. Nicholaus Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) and Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore) to be minority leader and minority whip, respectively.
The team replaces Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s), who had served as minority leader since 2007, and Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-Mid-Shore), who had been whip since 2011.
“I don’t think this election was any reflection on them,” Kipke told reporters after the caucus met in Annapolis. “The caucus is faced with a very tough election because of the gerrymandering that took place in the legislature recently, and we believe we have a plan that will best strengthen our caucus members into that election.”
Kipke said he plans greater outreach to center-right organizations throughout the state, such as Americans for Prosperity, Change Maryland and the various Republican central committees around the state to broaden the Republican support.
“We’re going to ask them to help us be messengers to those voters who don’t necessarily follow politics,” Kipke said.
Kipke has served in the General Assembly since 2007, Szeliga since 2011.
The state’s new legislative districts are expected to make the 2014 election difficult for Republicans, with one delegate predicting the GOP could lose as many as 10 of their 43 House seats.
Some delegates were concerned that O’Donnell wasn’t taking an active enough role in fundraising and identifying potential Republican candidates, whereas Democats seemed to be doing the opposite. Party morale has also taken a blow from a series of Democratic policy victories, including an increase in the state’s gas tax and sweeping gun-control reforms.
Kipke and Szeliga declined to discuss how close the vote was.
“It’s family business; we took care of it behind closed doors, and at the end of the day, we are 43 strong members of the minority party,” Szeliga said.
Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Frederick), said the party was unified and ready to move forward, but that members continued to have “tons of respect for Jeannie and Tony.”