Republicans in the Maryland House ousted Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell as their leader Tuesday, voting to replace him with Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke, a younger member who promised to do a better job of spreading the minority party’s message beyond Annapolis.
“Unfortunately, there are many voters out there in Maryland who don’t hear our message,” said Kipke (R-Anne Arundel), 34, who emerged as the victor after a contentious closed-door election that stretched more than two hours.
O’Donnell (R-Calvert), 52, had guided the Republican caucus since 2007, taking over the same year that Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) took office. During debates, he often gave fiery speeches on the floor in opposition to the administration’s policies.
With only 43 members in the 141-member House, the GOP’s influence is already limited, and some delegates fear their numbers could decrease in the 2014 elections.
Those will be the first races run in new districts drawn by a commission appointed by O’Malley. Kipke acknowledged Tuesday that it will be a challenge to pick up seats using a map that was “gerrymandered” to favor Democrats, but he said the party can make gains by working with a number of Republican party and conservative advocacy organizations to promote their initiatives.