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First Candidate to Replace Gaines Is Getting In

Nicole A. Williams, a lawyer with a gold-plated resume of civic and political activism, is throwing her hat into the ring to replace departed Del. Tawanna P. Gaines (D-Prince George’s), who resigned in scandal earlier this month.

Williams, who finished just out of the money in the Democratic primary for a 22nd District House seat last year, will tell supporters Friday afternoon that she plans to apply to fill the vacancy and will formally submit papers to the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee next week.

“I’ve been involved in the community over a number of years in a variety of different capacities,” she said in an interview. “I see this as an opportunity to continue my service.”

Williams is the first Democrat to officially announce her intention to seek the vacant seat. The central committee will hold a public hearing on Oct. 29 to hear from people interested in replacing Gaines. The filing deadline is next Thursday.

Williams, 42, lives in Greenbelt, and is a real estate attorney specializing in representing condo owners and homeowners’ associations. She is a vice chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and president of the Roosevelt Democratic Club in Greenbelt, serves on the city’s planning advisory board, and has been active with NARAL Pro Choice Maryland and Emerge Maryland, the organization that recruits and trains Democratic women who want to run for office.

Williams said her top priorities in Annapolis would be equality for women, reproductive rights, affordable housing, and consumer protection.

While there is still almost a week to the candidate filing deadline, many Prince George’s political observers regard Williams as a strong candidate for the seat.

Earlier this week, Ashanti Martinez, an aide to Prince George’s County Councilman Thomas Dernoga (D) who also ran unsuccessfully for the House last year, endorsed Williams after pondering a run for the vacant slot. And the Greenbelt News Review reported Thursday that Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan, who was also eyeing the appointment, will remain a candidate for reelection next month instead.

Several of the unions that supported Williams in the 2018 Democratic House primary are lining up to back her again in the appointment process.

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) has the ultimate say over the appointment, following a recommendation from the county’s Democratic central committee.

Gaines pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge Thursday after being accused by prosecutors of illegally pocketing campaign contributions. She’ll be sentenced on Jan. 3, 2020.

In other legislative appointment news, Democrat Carl Jackson, who was picked to fill a House vacancy in Baltimore County’s 8th District, will be sworn in Monday in Annapolis. Catherine Forbes, selected to fill a House vacancy in Baltimore County’s District 42B, is expected to be sworn in on Oct. 29.

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First Candidate to Replace Gaines Is Getting In