Sen. Doug J.J. Peters (D-Prince George’s), a popular and influential member of the Maryland Senate, will resign at the end of the month to take a position on the University of Maryland’s Board of Regents.
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) appointed the four-term lawmaker to the board on Thursday, and Peters announced his decision to leave the legislature a short time later.
Peters’ resignation will open up a coveted seat on the Budget & Taxation Committee. The Prince Georgian serves as chairman of the Capital Budget Subcommittee, a key post that will also need filling.
In addition, his decision to step down is certain to trigger a scramble to fill the 23rd District Senate seat ahead of next year’s legislative session and the June 2022 primary.
Last week, Peters told Maryland Matters that he had decided not to seek re-election in 2022.
One of a shrinking number of socially conservative Democrats in elective office, Peters — who voted against marriage equality and is anti-abortion rights — said the potential of a tough re-election bid played no role in his decision-making, nor did his unsuccessful bid to become Senate president in 2019.
“Even if I was Senate president, I wasn’t going to run again,” Peters said. “It would be my fifth term. Time to let someone else take over.”
In a statement, he called it “an honor of a lifetime to serve my neighbors at the city, county, and state level.”
“I am proud that I participated in over 500 Eagle Scout ceremonies, created the [Richard W. Collins III Leadership With Honor] scholarship, and passed important legislation. No matter where I served, I only sought to help people,” he added. “I feel good about what I have accomplished and look forward to serving on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.”
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) said Peters provided leadership on a wide range of issues.
“In our time serving together, Doug Peters has stressed the need to put his constituents first,” Ferguson said in a statement.
“Last year, with a global pandemic, and stimulus funds coming to the state at a rapid pace, Doug’s leadership as Chair of the Capital Budget committee was essential to make certain that every jurisdiction in Maryland received funds for shovel ready projects that will help build Maryland back better.”
First elected in 2006, Peters rose to become Senate majority leader from 2016 to 2019. He took the helm of the Capital Budget Subcommittee in 2019.
He travelled extensively throughout the state each year during the legislative interim, to visit potential projects with colleagues of both parties, a practice that generated goodwill.
In his home county, Peters was influential in the creation of the just-opened University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center and a bill to speed school construction using public-private partnerships.
“Prince George’s County relies on state aid to provide for its citizens,” said County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) in a statement put out by Peters’ office. “And I have relied on Doug Peters to get the big jobs done. Thanks to his efforts, we have a new hospital in Largo.”
He was also instrumental in funding projects at Bowie State University and throughout the City of Bowie.
Peters served one term on the Bowie City Council and one term on the Prince George’s County Council before being elected to represent the Senate.
“For more than two decades, Senator Peters has been a strong leader, a workhorse and the go-to person to get things done for the Greater Bowie community and the county,” County Council Member Todd Turner (D) said in a statement.
“In his low-key yet persuasive manner, he has had a quiet hand in achieving outstanding results for the areas he has represented during his public service in the City, the County and the State of Maryland.”
Businesswoman Sylvia L. Johnson, a member of the Prince George’s County Human Relations Commission, announced her bid for Peters’ seat on Saturday.
Del. Ronald L. Watson (D), a former member of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, is considered a likely candidate as well.
Two-term Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D), who previously served on the Bowie City Council, is another potential office-seeker.
All of the candidates for Peters’ seat next November are likely to seek appointment to serve out the final 18 months of his term.
Peters’ resignation is effective on July 30, his 33rd wedding anniversary, according to his office. The Prince George’s Democratic Central Committee will hold a hearing to consider candidates for the interim appointment. They will select from among the candidates and forward a nominee to the governor.
The committee will schedule a hearing within 30 days of its receipt of a letter of resignation, Chairwoman Cheryl Landis said.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include a statement from Senate Pres. Bill Ferguson.