Maryland’s business community will lose a powerful voice, as Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin announced Monday he would leave the chamber next week.
Pipkin’s last day in office will be Aug. 12, wrapping up an 11-year career. He wrote in a letter to media that he is moving to Texas to pursue a master of science degree in sports management at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“One’s responsibilities to family and oneself often change the direction of life,” Pipkin wrote.
Pipkin (R-Dist. 36) was known as being business-friendly, but he could also be hard on businesses, such as electric companies, when he thought they were acting irresponsibly, said Sen. David Brinkley (R-Dist. 4) of New Market.
Pipkin was a powerful advocate for consumers, but also wanted businesses to be able to operate in the private sector, Brinkley said.
“I think he’s an incredibly valuable resource to the Senate,” Brinkley said.
Pipkin was tenacious on issues he cared about, and fought tirelessly for his constituents, said Sen. Allen Kittleman (R-Dist. 9) of West Friendship, who served with Pipkin for nine years, including seven years together on the Finance Committee.
Kittleman preceded Pipkin as Senate minority leader.
Pipkin became minority whip — succeeding Brinkley — in 2011, then minority leader that year.
Pipkin would come to committee meetings knowing the issues inside and out, Kittleman said.
He said he didn’t know where the idea for the sport management degree came from, but he respects Pipkin’s judgement in making the decision.
“I just know E.J. is someone who doesn’t take anything lightly or do anything rashly,” Kittleman said.
Brinkley said Pipkin is extremely competitive, and has traveled the country supporting his daughter, a competitive skater, and son, who Brinkley said is a very good golfer.
Pipkin and his wife frequently went to sporting events, including several Super Bowls, Brinkley said.
Brinkley and Kittleman both said they were caught off-guard about the decision.
Pipkin spoke with Republican senators in a conference call Monday afternoon, Kittleman said.
Pipkin did not return a phone call Monday seeking comment on his decision.
Pipkin ran for the U.S. Senate in 2004 and for the Republican nomination for Maryland’s First Congressional District in 2008.
In his letter, Pipkin said he chose to resign now to allow the Republican who replaces him to serve before running for a full term. Pipkin’s term runs until January 2015.
“My eleven years in the General Assembly has [sic] been a time of challenge as a Republican, a time of accomplishment as a State Senator and a time when I have learned much about people and what can be achieved when people are determined,” he wrote.