ANNAPOLIS — Del. Maggie McIntosh said confidently Tuesday she’ll become Maryland’s next House speaker and the first openly gay woman to hold the position.
“I feel like it’s mine,” the Baltimore City Democrat said on a conference call.
McIntosh, 71, has support from several Democrats who spoke on the call.
Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk (D-District 21) of College Park said McIntosh epitomizes the diversity of the state, which was the first to vote for marriage equality.
“Maggie understands this history,” she said. “The strength of Maryland’s diversity and we are all here wanting a safe home, good schools and a brighter future. I am confident that Maggie will continue this legacy as speaker.”
McIntosh, a former Baltimore City teacher who now chairs the Appropriations Committee, faces a challenge by Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-District 25) of Prince George’s County, who touts support from the majority of the state’s Black Caucus.
Davis, 51, who chairs the Economic Matters Committee, also received support from former Lt. Gov. and current Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Maryland), who said in a statement Friday the state should be amenable to an African American in a leadership role.
Either person chosen during a special session Wednesday in Annapolis would make history because only white men have served as speaker. The lawmaker will replace the late House Speaker Michael Busch, who had held the position from 1993 until his death on April 7 — the longest tenure in state history.
As for McIntosh, she believes she will have the support from the House Democratic Caucus.
The Black Caucus has 45 of the 98 Democratic delegates in the House. Approximately 71 votes are needed for a person to become chosen as a speaker.
The Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee nominated Sheneka Henson, a Black Annapolis alderwoman, to fill Busch’s seat to represent District 30A. Gov. Larry Hogan would need to approve the appointment, which could ultimately result in Henson becoming the 46th member of the state’s Black Caucus.
However, Stephanie Smith and Regina Boyce, two Black delegates from Baltimore City who recently completed their first 90-day sessions in Annapolis, back McIntosh.
Republican leaders plan to hold a press conference Wednesday before the special session to announce who they will support and could vote as an entire 42-member voting bloc.
The House Democratic Caucus also plans to meet about the same time. If there aren’t enough votes for the party to agree on one person, there’s potential for significant debate on the House floor.
“If it goes to the floor, it will be very damaging to the Democratic Party,” McIntosh said. “It will be contentious. I think the majority hope to settle it in the Democratic Caucus and we walk out in unity.”