ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Republican lawmakers in the Maryland House of Delegates elected new leadership on Tuesday.
Republicans elected Delegate Nicholaus Kipke of Anne Arundel to serve as House minority leader, replacing Calvert County’s Anthony O’Donnell, who had held the post since 2007.
Lawmakers also elected Kathy Szeliga, of Baltimore County, to replace the Eastern Shore’s Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio as House minority whip.
The decision was announced after a two-hour closed-door meeting.
While not revealing the official count, Kipke said the overall vote was one of “affirmation.”
“We are all committed to unity,” Szeliga said. “It’s family business. We took care of it behind closed doors.”
This was the third attempt to oust O’Donnell, with Kipke leading a similar effort in 2011 that failed.
The newly elected team said that they look forward to picking up seats in the 2014 election and working to tackle crime, poverty and education in the state. Both delegates also expressed the need to introduce their policies to a larger population of Maryland voters.
“We too often operate in a silo,” Kipke said. “We have the best policies and the best arguments here in Annapolis, but unfortunately many voters here in Maryland don’t hear our message. We have policies that reduce poverty and provide opportunity. We have policies that will lower crime and keep Maryland streets safer.”
The new leaders said they plan to work with organizations like Change Maryland, Americans For Prosperity and the Republican central committees around the state to advance their message.
“We’re going to have one big great tent for folks who are really concerned about Maryland’s economy, public safety and education,” Kipke added.
The change in House leadership comes about a week after the Maryland Republican Party voted in a new state party chairman, Diana Waterman.
“Everybody is excited and we are unified,” said Kathy Afzali, R-Frederick. “We have a tough election coming up, and we think that we could pick up seats. That’s our goal. With the new team, we are going to do it. ”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)