ANNAPOLIS — Del. Dereck Davis, the chair of the House Economic Matters Committee, will succeed Nancy Kopp as the next treasurer of Maryland.
Davis’ election to the post, making him just the second Black treasurer in state history, came during an unusual session in which the House and Senate cast their votes in separate rooms for just the first time in nearly 60 years. He is also the first state treasurer to hail from Prince George’s County.
Davis’ election to treasurer represents a next step in a career that included an unsuccessful run for speaker of the House after the death of Michael Busch. The campaign between Davis and Del. Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore, threatened to split the Democratic majority. Republicans publicly sided with Davis, a move that angered some Democrats who did not want the minority party taking a hand in the election of the next presiding officer.
The divide led to Del. Adrienne Jones, then the speaker pro tem, becoming the consensus candidate and becoming the first Black and first woman to lead the House or Senate.
Davis, in comments to the Senate Thursday night, called that election “the lowest of the lows” in his political career.
“That was tough getting through that,” he said.
But Davis maintained his chairmanship following the election. He noted that at times he had to work hard to stay ahead not only of Republicans in his committee and on the floor but also members of his own party, including progressive Democrats who sometimes criticized him for not going far enough on issues they favored.
“I plotted on you jokers,” Davis said with a laugh in comments to the House, adding that he would spend time working on one-liners and witty comebacks for anticipated comments, which he feared might end as he transitions to a new role.
“I thought: How am I going to replace that?” said Davis. “Then the light turned on and I thought: The Board of Public Works.”
“Give me time to get comfortable there,” he joked.
Davis will remain a delegate until next week. Kopp is expected to officially retire as Davis is sworn in next Friday.
A replacement in leadership of Davis’ former committee has already been named. Del. C.T. Wilson, D-Charles, was named the next chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee moments after Davis was elected to his new role.
Davis, a Democrat, was considered the favorite in a four-candidate election. A joint legislative panel recommended Davis after an interview process in late November.
A total of 182 Democrat and Republican delegates and senators cast secret ballots. Davis’ name was called out repeatedly as votes were counted. Three votes were cast for others: one for the child of Del. Robin Grammer, R-Baltimore County, and another for Joseph Zimmerman, one of the other three officials who interviewed for the position.
One final vote was cast not for a person but used for “let’s go Brandon,” a veiled profane political insult directed at Democratic President Joseph Biden.
Kopp, 78, announced her retirement in October, bringing to an end a nearly 50-year career in state government.
As treasurer, Davis will preside over bond sales and other state financial matters, including insurance. He will also serve as one of three members of the Board of Public Works.
Davis’ move to the three-member board sets up a potentially awkward situation with Comptroller Peter Franchot, who also sits on the board. The two have at times been sharply critical of each other.
Just two years ago, Franchot and Davis were at odds over an expansion of craft brewing desired by the comptroller.
“I promise you, the Board of Public Works will never be the same,” Davis joked in comments to the Senate.