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Md. treasurer election this year may be unique

The likely new treasurer is Del. Dereck Davis, 54, a Prince George’s Democrat and chair of the House Economic Matters Committee. (The Daily Record/File Photo)

ANNAPOLIS — The election of a new state treasurer could look a little different this year than it has in the past. 

Treasurer Nancy Kopp, 77, announced in October that she would retire by the end of the year. Electing her successor is one of the three priorities of the current special session. 

The House and Senate elect the treasurer to a four-year term. A successor would serve out the balance of Kopp’s term that ends in 2023. 

A legislative panel in late November unanimously recommended Del. Dereck Davis, 54, a Prince George’s County Democrat and chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee to succeed Kopp. 

If elected, Davis would become the first treasurer from Prince George’s County and only the second Black man to hold the office.  

Davis was one of four candidates interviewed by the special joint legislative panel. Other candidates included: 

  • Jorge Cortez, a banker and financial analyst. 
  • Former Baltimore city Del. John Douglass. 
  • Joseph Zimmerman, secretary-treasurer of the Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning Commission and a previous director of finance for the Maryland Environmental Service. 

For almost 60 years the House and Senate gathered in the House chamber for a joint session. There, 188 and lawmakers cast secret ballots. 

This year could be different. There appears to be no legal need for both houses of the legislature to be in the same room. 

The ongoing pandemic could usher in the return of a technical, but not physical, joint session. The House and Senate would remain in their respective chambers. They would follow the same secret ballot process. 

The voting process is open to the public and streamed live on the General Assembly’s website. Lawmakers can pick from the four named candidates or write in another selection. 

Kopp has yet to provide an exact retirement date. Her letter to the legislature should come this week with the election of her successor. 

Traditionally, the new treasurer is sworn in immediately following the public ballot tally. This may also look a little different. 

The office isn’t officially vacant until Kopp’s retirement takes effect. Davis, the delegate, must resign his seat before he is sworn in as treasurer. 

The law gives a candidate 30 days to qualify and take the oath of office. This period would stretch into the 2022 regular session.  

That amount of time is likely unnecessary as a swearing-in could take place as soon as next week. The timing of the ceremony depends on Gov. Larry Hogan’s schedule. The governor, by law, must be present for the swearing-in.