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Legislative Black Caucus Welcomes Republican Into the Fold

The Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland wasted no time Wednesday publicly welcoming its newest member ― the first Black Republican woman to ever serve in the General Assembly.

Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) on Wednesday morning formally appointed educator Brenda J. Thiam to fill the House vacancy in Washington County’s District 2B. She’ll replace now-Sen. Paul D. Corderman (R), who was appointed to fill a vacancy in the upper chamber a few weeks ago.

Within hours, the all-Democratic Black Caucus put an end to the question of whether it would welcome the first Black Republican to serve in the legislature in three decades. In a statement, the LBC congratulated Thiam “on her historic appointment.”

“She brings to the LBCM her experiences and talents as an educator, community leader, an HBCU alumnae and a member of a historically Black sorority, which prides itself on sisterhood and community service,” the statement said.

The LBC has 58 members ― a formidable bloc in the 188-member General Assembly.

The late state Sen. Harry A. Cole of Baltimore City, elected in 1954, was the first African-American Republican to serve in the General Assembly — and the first Black lawmaker elected overall. The last Black Republican to serve in the legislature was the late Del. Aris T. Allen of Anne Arundel County, who died in office in 1991.

On Capitol Hill, the Congressional Black Caucus has a sometimes uneasy relationship with Black Republican lawmakers. Currently, the two African-American Republicans in Congress ― Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and Rep. Will Hurd of Texas ― do not belong to the 55-member CBC. Four of the eight Black Republicans who served in Congress since the formation of the CBC in 1969 have joined.

“While we may have different perspectives on policy and politics, at the end of the day our common goal is to lead the fight for equality and representation on behalf of Black
Marylanders across the State,” Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, said Wednesday.

In a statement announcing his intention to name Thiam to the legislature, Hogan also noted the historic nature of her appointment.

“As a passionate educator and dedicated member of her community, I am confident that Dr. Thiam will be a strong advocate for constituents in Washington County in her new role as delegate,” he said.

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