A four-term Republican state delegate who was expected to be the favorite to succeed Democratic Sen. Jim Brochin in 2018 has announced she will instead leave the General Assembly.
Del. Susan Aumann, R-Baltimore County, said Monday that she is stepping back to take care of her 90-year old mother, whose health has required an increased need for assistance. The announcement, which surprised some political observers, throws a new wrinkle into a Republican election contest that was believed to be all but settled.
“I’m really sorry this has all come about because I love what I do,” Aumann said.
Aumann, who has a reputation for hard work and constituent service, said she believes her previous 16 years in office would have helped her Senate campaign but she knew said she couldn’t devote the time to the office that she has previously.
“I don’t just want to float by and get in there, I’m a worker,” Aumann said.
Aumann is expected to make an announcement to supporters as early as Tuesday.
The health of her mother is just the latest in a line of personal hardships that has seen the loss of several of her other close family members in the last year. Aumann called the last year “tragic” and said it has caused her and her husband, R. Karl Aumann, chair of the state Worker’s Compensation Commission, to take stock of what is important in their lives.
“It really calls into question what your priorities are and what they have to be,” Aumann said. “I can only be committed to one and I have to focus on that.”
Aumann, who is more likely to answer to “Sue” than to “delegate,” was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2002 — a year that saw the election of the first Republican governor in nearly 40 years and an expansion of Republicans in the General Assembly.
During her time in the legislature, she developed a reputation for using her background in accounting and auditing to peel back the layers of state budgets and also for working on pension issues.
Earlier this year, she was awarded the Casper R. Taylor, Jr. Founder’s Award for “working tirelessly and across the aisle” while in the House of Delegates.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch, speaking in February, noted Aumann’s work on issues of tuition-free education for the children of police officers who die in the line of duty and her advocacy for suicide prevention.
“She is someone I know who is respected and liked by all,” Busch said at the time.
Aumann, who turns 58 in July, said her decision doesn’t rule out a run at some other future date.
Her decision also opens up a 2018 election campaign that many had considered long-settled.
Aumann was expected to step up to run for the Senate seat in her district as four-term Democratic Sen. Jim Brochin is widely expected to run for Baltimore County Executive.
Brochin and Aumann were elected in the same year. Since then, the district has undergone a number of changes driven by political demographics and redistricting.
In the most recent round of redistricting, Brochin saw his district, which stretches from the Baltimore City line just south of Towson to the Pennsylvania border, become more Republican. In an effort to protect Del. Steve Lafferty, the lone Democratic member of the House, the legislature split the legislative district into two parts.
The larger northern portion, called 42B, is more Republican and elected two Republican delegates — Aumann and Christopher R. “Chris” West, a moderate who is rounding out his first term in the House.
The smaller portion, 42A, is packed tightly with Democrats and returned Lafferty to Annapolis.
Brochin, a consummate campaigner, lost the northern part of the district in 2014 but won heavily in the more Democratic areas and held on to the seat. But Republicans and many Democrats acknowledge that Brochin’s departure will benefit the Republicans as they seek to pick up additional Senate seats in what has become known as the “drive for five.”
West, a principal at, Semmes, Bowen and Semmes, is expected to make an announcement regarding his entry into the Senate possible as early as the coming week. He could not be immediately reached for comment.
One Democrat has surfaced as a likely contestant for the Senate seat — Robert J. “Robbie” Leonard, an unsuccessful candidate for the House in 42B in 2014 and an attorney at the Law Offices of Peter T. Nicholl.
“I’m listening to my supporters throughout the district and I’m encouraged and I’ll be making a decision shortly,” Leonard said Monday.
And instead of one open seat in the House of Delegates, the district may need to elect two new members — the most since 2002 when all three delegates and the state senator were elected for the first time.
Some Republican names surfacing in the heavily conservative sub-district include:
Few Democratic names have surfaced to compete for those seats, but Leonard said he expects that will change.
“The political climate right now in this country, people are deciding to run for political office who have never run before,” Leonard said. “I’m definitely looking forward to seeing who those people are.”