Maryland House elects first African American woman as speaker

Maryland House elects first African American woman as speaker
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The Maryland House of Delegates made history on Wednesday by electing its first African American woman as speaker.

Delegates chose Del. Adrienne Jones (D) of Baltimore County after several Democrats battled for the position, according to The Washington Post

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Jones, who is speaker pro tem, had withdrawn her candidacy for speaker last week as part of an effort to get black lawmakers to support Del. Dereck E. Davis (D), the Post reported.

The Democratic caucus was split on whether to support Davis, a centrist, or Baltimore City Del. Maggie McIntosh, who had endorsements from progressives.

McIntosh had reportedly gained support from the majority of the Democratic caucus before House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke (R) announced that all 42 House Republicans would vote for Davis, meaning he had an opportunity to win the position.

The situation eventually led to Democratic lawmakers saying they would support Jones to succeed Michael E. Busch as speaker. Busch died in early April at the age of 73. 

McIntosh nominated Jones on the House floor, saying these "walls will never be the same.” Kipke, who had announced that every GOP member would vote for Jones after the announcement, seconded the nomination.  

"I’m still overwhelmed by it all, the turn of the events," Jones told reporters, adding that she's sure Busch is "smiling down" at her.

Jones has been a member of the House for more than 20 years and served as Busch's second-in-command for 16 of them.

“I extend my sincere congratulations to Adrienne Jones on becoming the 107th Speaker of the House of Delegates," Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said in a statement shared on Twitter. "The election of our first African-American and first female Speaker marks a proud and historic moment for our state."