Before leaving Annapolis following the conclusion of the 2021 General Assembly session, House Republicans on Tuesday elected new leaders.
Del. Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany) is the new House minority leader; Del. Christopher T. Adams (R-Lower Shore) will be minority whip.
They were elected to lead the 43-member caucus after a Tuesday morning meeting.
“I am truly humbled to have the support of my Republican colleagues in the House and to be chosen as their leader,” Buckel said in a statement. “These are 42 of the best people I have met in my life. We are strong, we are a team, and we are ready to do the best job we can do, together.”
The two new leaders take over from Dels. Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) and Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County), who were the longest-tenured Maryland House GOP leaders in the modern era.
“I wish this new leadership team nothing but success,” Kipke said in a statement. “It can be a tough job, particularly in a chamber where we are outnumbered more than 2 to 1, but, it can also be very rewarding. The spirited and thoughtful debate our members bring to this Chamber has always been a source of pride for me. Minority Leader Jason Buckel and Minority Whip Chris Adams are capable legislators and leaders, and I know this tradition of taking principled, articulated stands will continue under their leadership.”
Kipke and Szeliga announced their intention to step down shortly after the start of the 2021 session.
Buckel thanked them for their long tenure, as well as allowing him to become part of the House GOP leadership team as deputy minority whip.
“We are both incredibly grateful for the years of dedicated service Delegates Kipke and Szeliga have provided to this Caucus,” Buckel said in a statement. “They have both worked tirelessly on the Caucus’ behalf and we all owe them a great deal of gratitude for their many contributions.”
Adams said he and Buckel are ready to build on “the many successes” Kipke and Szeliga have given them.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve,” he said in a statement. “There are many challenges we face, but our Caucus is driven by challenge, and we will rise to the occasion.”
In an interview, Buckel said the House caucus left the hour-plus meeting in Annapolis on Tuesday “incredibly unified.”
He said the first order of business for the two leaders is to begin work on the 2022 election cycle.
“This cycle is really important,” Buckel said. “Do we want to be that state of middle temperament, or do we continue to slide off into that abyss of far-left policies?”
Part of those 2022 preparations will be looking at the state’s redistricting process. Buckel said he believes Marylanders are more ideologically moderate than the 7-to-1 Democratic advantage in Congressional seats or 2-to-1 presence in the State House would have people believe.
The decennial redistricting process is an opportunity for the caucus to “reset the playing field to some extent,” he said.
Buckel and Adams represent the geographic poles of the state — far Western Maryland and the Lower Shore. They serve on the Ways and Means and Economic Matters committees, respectively.