Lawmaker’s Death Scrambles Picture in Anne Arundel County

The death of Del. Theodore J. Sophocleus (D-Anne Arundel) Friday at the age of 79 adds a new wrinkle to an already complicated primary day on June 26. Sophocleus had been ailing for several weeks, suffering from complications following neck surgery. Sophocleus was running for a sixth full term representing the 32nd District, which takes in Glen Burnie, Linthicum, Odenton, Jessup and other politically competitive communities in western Anne Arundel County.   If, posthumously, he finishes in the top three in the Democratic primary, it will be up to the Anne Arundel Democratic Central Committee to select a replacement for the general election ballot. With Del. Pamela G. Beidle (D) running for the district’s vacant state Senate seat, Sophocleus’ death leaves Del. Mark S. Chang (D) as the only District 32 House incumbent seeking reelection.  

Theodore J. Sophocleus

It is not clear whether the central committee will also select a replacement to fill the remainder of Sophocleus’ term, which runs through early January 2019. Colleagues from across the political spectrum mourned Sophocleus’ passing. He was one of a vanishing breed of socially conservative Democrats serving in Annapolis. His popular annual fundraiser was called “Stuck in the ‘50s,” and featured Doo-Wop music and other staples of the era. It seemed to reflect his worldview. “Ted Sophocleus was one of the finest people I’ve met in public office,” said House Minority Leader Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel). “He was honest, true to himself and his constituents, and loved his family dearly. He never wore his party on his sleeve and often in a grandfatherly way gave me good advice, I’ll miss him dearly.” Steuart Pittman, the horse farmer and political novice who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for Anne Arundel County executive, recalled Sophocleus dispensing valuable advice: “Don’t ever apologize for helping people. That’s why we do this.” The Maryland Republican Party issued a statement paying tribute to the lawmaker following his death, but the Maryland Democratic Party did not. It seemed like a symbolic reminder that party leaders have been increasingly removed from conservative Democrats like Sophocleus. Sophocleus was a pharmacist by trade who spent two terms on the Anne Arundel County Council, beginning in 1982. He lost two bids for county executive, in 1990 and 1994, and was an appointed member of the House of Delegates in 1993 and 1994. He was elected to the House in his own right in 1998 and served in Annapolis ever since. Sophocleus is survived by his wife of 54 years, Alice Sophocleus; two daughters, Evangeline Weese and Elena Thomas; and five grandchildren.
Another daughter, Dina Furrow, died in 2005 in a motorcycle crash; her husband, Stanley Furrow, was driving drunk and was convicted of manslaughter. The family will receive visitors at Singleton Funeral & Cremation Services, 1 2nd Ave. SW in Glen Burnie, on Wednesday from 4-8 p.m. and Thursday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Sophocleus will lie in state at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, 24 W. Preston St. in Baltimore on Friday from 10:30-11 a.m., the funeral hour. Interment will be at the Greek Orthodox Cemetery in Woodlawn. Besides Sophocleus, who remains on the ballot, and Chang, the other Democrats running for the House in District 32 are: Patrick Armstrong, a health policy analyst who narrowly lost a bid for Anne Arundel County Council in 2014; J. Sandy Bartlett, a patent and trademark lawyer who is aligned with the incumbents; Jenese Jones, an educator; Derek Kent, an Army veteran and software engineer; and Mike Rogers, an Army veteran.

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Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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