Is an Incumbent Delegate Getting Pushed Out?

By Adam Pagnucco.

In 2006, Senator P.J. Hogan and Delegates Nancy King and Charles Barkley became fed up with their District 39 colleague, Delegate Joan Stern.  Four months before the election, Hogan, King and Barkley announced that they would not be running with Stern for reelection.  Barkley told the Gazette, “She’s being dropped… I would say it just was not working as a team. I think the three of us [Hogan, King and Barkley] really work well as a team, but not the four of us.”  That left Stern vulnerable to challenger Saqib Ali, who later picked up the Apple Ballot and defeated her.

Is this happening again in Anne Arundel County?

Legislative District 32, which occupies the northern tip of Anne Arundel, is currently represented by four Democrats: Senator James “Ed” DeGrange (first elected in 1998), Delegate Ted Sophocleus (1998), Delegate Pam Beidle (2006) and Delegate Mark Chang (2014).  The Republicans have not come close to knocking out DeGrange in recent years, but they sometimes come within a thousand votes or so in the House races.  (Chang ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in 2006.)

Democratic Central Committee Member Sandy Bartlett is running for Delegate in District 32 and here’s where it gets interesting.  Since December, Bartlett’s campaign account has received contributions from DeGrange ($1,000), Beidle ($500), Senator Jim Rosapepe ($500) and Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk ($500).  Rosapepe and Pena-Melnyk represent a district that includes parts of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel.  Soon after Bartlett’s announcement, Beidle wrote on Facebook, “Sandy Bartlett for Delegate in District 32!  Happy to have her join Team 32.”

Wait a minute!  DeGrange, Beidle, Chang and Sophocleus are all members of the Team 32 Slate account.  Bartlett is not.

Unless a fourth House seat is magically created (it won’t be!), someone is on the outs.  The Capital Gazette notes that none of the incumbent Delegates has announced plans to retire, although it reports speculation that Sophocleus (who is 78) might leave.  Let’s remember that Sophocleus had bypass surgery in 2014.  Additionally, Bartlett (who is African American) brings diversity and gender balance to the delegation ticket.

All of this begs the obvious question.  Is Sophocleus getting pushed out the door?