Montgomery County’s delegation to the state House of Delegates on Wednesday threw its support to a Baltimore County lawmaker to be the next House speaker.
Del. Adrienne Jones has been in the legislature since 1997 and was speaker pro tem, the second in command, to Speaker Michael Busch, whose death last month set off a scramble among Democrats for a successor.
Jones, 64, received a “yes” vote from 138 of the 141 members of the House and will be the first African-American and first woman to serve as speaker in the heavily Democratic chamber.
She was supported by all 24 members of the Montgomery delegation, and chairman Del. Marc Korman, a Bethesda Democrat, said she has the “full confidence of the House Democratic Caucus.”
“She has always been our partner in Montgomery County as a member of the Appropriations Committee and we look forward to this continued leadership,” he said.
Del. Eric Luedtke, a Burtonsville Democrat and chairman of the House Democratic caucus, said Wednesday’s caucus meeting lasted from 10 a.m. from 2 p.m. At the conclusion, the two candidates for speaker, Delegates Maggie McIntosh and Dereck Davis, voluntarily took themselves out of the running to make way for Jones.
“It was a moment of political courage and selflessness I will remember,” he said. “Both of them and the membership of the caucus wanted to find a way to meet all of our goals and keep the caucus together.”
Luedtke said he has gotten to know Jones since she has been chair of the Education Subcommittee on Appropriations and believes she is a “terrific leader.” He is confident that Montgomery County will “have the speaker’s ear” when it comes to key issues such as school construction funding.
Del. Jheanelle Wilkins, a Silver Spring Democrat and one of five African-American Montgomery House members, noted the historic nature of Jones’s speakership.
Del. Ariana Kelly, a Bethesda Democrat and chairwoman of the Montgomery Democratic Caucus, also called Jones’s election historic.
“She will lead the state in the tradition of our late Speaker Busch, unifying a diverse team of legislators working towards the common interests of our state,” she said.
This story was updated at 10:20 a.m. May 2 to include comments and reaction from Montgomery County legislators.
Dan Schere can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org