Del. Karen Lewis Young Announces Run for Her Husband’s Senate Seat

Del. Karen Lewis Young (D-Frederick) said she would introduce legislation to protect statutes enacted by local governments at an Annapolis news conference held by LOCAL Maryland. Photo by Hannah Gaskill

Frederick Del. Karen Lewis Young (D) announced this week that she will run for the District 3 Senate seat currently held by her husband, Sen. Ronald N. Young (D).

Lewis Young has represented a portion of the district, which includes the city of Frederick, in the House of Delegates since 2015. Before that, she served one term on the Frederick Board of Aldermen.

“I get tremendous satisfaction out of helping people, helping people overcome some of the challenges and hardships in their life,” Lewis Young said.

And she thinks she can do more of that in the Senate: serving on a standing committee with a wider policy focus and handling a larger caseload of constituents reaching out for assistance.

Lewis Young said that if elected, she would focus on affordable health care, quality education and creating good jobs. She considers her platform, simply, to be: “Working hard for you.”

There is one small hitch related to Lewis Young’s announcement — which she made during a virtual fundraiser with U.S. Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D) earlier this week: Ron Young, chair of the Senate’s Executive Nominations Committee, hasn’t formally announced he’ll leave his seat.

“He hasn’t officially declared that yet,” Lewis Young said, with a laugh, in an interview. “…There’s a certain point in time when he hadn’t made that announcement, but I was ready to go. …Let’s hope this encourages him into making an announcement.”

In a separate interview, Ron Young joked that it would grab national attention if the pair ran against one another, but added that it’s “very probable” he’ll step down.

“I’ll probably make an announcement of some sort soon,” he said.

Ron Young, 80, has held the seat since 2011. But his political career in Frederick stretches back to the late 1960’s.

With Lewis Young’s election to the House, the couple are believed to be the first husband and wife to simultaneously hold positions in the General Assembly. Ron Young’s sons have also been involved in local politics: Blaine Young, a Republican, is a former Frederick County commissioner, and Brad W. Young is a member of the Frederick County Board of Education.

The District 3 Senate seat was one of the most hotly contested in 2018, with the Maryland Republican Party including it in the “Drive for Five,” an effort to shift enough seats from Democratic control to break up a veto-proof majority in the Senate.

But Young won the race by a wide margin — 58.5% to Republican challenger Craig Giangrande’s 41.3% — in contrast to his much narrower 1.7-point victory in 2014.

Frederick County as a whole has been growing more consistently Democratic since those elections, but the boundaries of District 3 could change through the upcoming redistricting process. Lewis Young’s current District 3A contains heavily Democratic parts of the city of Frederick; the District 3B subdistrict extends down Interstate 270 to the Montgomery County line and includes Urbana.

In 2018, Del. Ken Kerr (D) won the District 3B election, flipping it after four consecutive Republican victories.

Lewis Young said she will take nothing for granted in her campaign.

“I always hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” she said. “I’m going to run this race like it’s 2014 or 2018.”

Lewis Young noted that while Democratic voters in the county have increased, so too, have the number of voters identifying as Independents.

“Which way Independents go is certainly unpredictable,” Lewis Young said. “So while the number of blue registered voters is certainly encouraging, you don’t want to feel overly comfortable or confident because Independents are just that.”

To appeal to those voters, Lewis Young said she would highlight her record as being socially progressive and “fiscally responsible,” a product of her 35-year career in banking and financial services.

If elected, Lewis Young would become the first woman to represent Frederick County in the Maryland Senate. But she may not have the field to herself in 2022.

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Danielle E. Gaines
Danielle Gaines covered government and politics for Maryland Matters for two years before moving into an editing position. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post ― as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at The Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.