Sen. George C. Edwards (R-Garrett) announced Tuesday that he won’t seek reelection in 2022, ending a legislative career that spanned decades.
Edwards, 73, said in a Tuesday statement that he’s leaving the General Assembly to spend more time with his family. He said that, through three-month sessions over his roughly four decades as a legislator, he’s spent about ten collective years living and working in Annapolis.
“I will continue to work hard over the next 18 months and I will always fight to help Mountain Maryland whenever I can now and in the future,” Edwards said.
Edwards, who was first elected as a delegate in 1983 and elected to the senate in 2007, is viewed as a champion for Western Maryland. He served as the minority leader during his time in the House of Delegates. As he noted in his statement, he is one of few Republicans to chair a committee in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.
Edwards is the Senate chair of the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics, and he also co-chairs the Task Force on the Economic Future of Western Maryland. He is also chair of the Senate Republican Caucus.
“As a Republican in a heavily Democrat Maryland I believe I have helped make a lot of great improvements in District One,” Edwards said. “Many of the bills that I sponsored and got passed will positively impact District One and the State well into the future.”
Edwards is also a budget negotiator and ranking member of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee.
Committee Chairman Guy Guzzone (D-Howard) said Edwards has been a “terrific” member of the committee and is “always an advocate for his community and all the rural areas and mountainous areas of the state.”
“We’re going to have one more great session together,” Guzzone added.
Del. Wendell Beitzel (R-Allegany), who was elected to replace Edwards when he moved to the Senate, said the two lawmakers have been lifelong friends and worked together on their chambers’ respective budget committees to look out for their district.
“He’s been a real champion for our region and a real great guy,” Beitzel said.
Edwards’ statement was posted on Facebook by his son, Garrett County Board of Commissioners Chair Paul C. Edwards (R).
The younger Edwards, as well as House Minority Leader Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany) and Del. Mike McKay (R-Allegany and Washington), are potential candidates for the now-open seat.
Paul Edwards and Buckel could not be reached on Tuesday. Both offered remarks on Facebook.
“I want to congratulate my father on an unbelievable career. Still 18 months to get things done, but no one has done more for Garrett County,” Edwards posted. “Great Senator, even better father and grandfather.”
Buckel wrote that he knew George Edwards “a little bit, as so many people in Western Maryland do,” before his first run for the House of Delegates.
“…He’s one of the finest, most sincere, capable, level-headed and decent people I’ve ever known, not just in Annapolis but in my life,” Buckel wrote. “…I don’t want to see him leave; it leaves a tremendous void in our delegation and for me personally in my life to not have George on the team. But I know that deep down, he will always be on the team.”
McKay, reached by phone, did not comment on the 2022 election, instead praising Edwards’ decades of service.
“George never lost sight of the true meaning of public service and put politics aside to better the lives of his constituents and their communities,” McKay said in a separate written statement. “George has always been a mentor to me in my twenty years of elected office … I have learned so much through his example and will take those lessons with me as I continue to represent the people of Western Maryland.”
In a Tuesday press release, members of the Senate Republican Caucus described Edwards as a stalwart advocate for Western Maryland and rural areas across the state.
“George is a mentor and friend to all who worked and served with him,” the Senate Republican Caucus statement reads. “We will miss his straight shooter style sprinkled with some Western Maryland charm and annual April snow reports from the mountains.”
Senate Pres. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon about Edwards’ announcement.
“Senator George Edwards is a Maryland Senator through and through. For the last 38 years, he has represented Western Maryland with compassion and zealousness… As a colleague and friend, I watched as George made sure every Senator understood the needs of his district, and always approached negotiations from a standpoint of getting to a resolution, not to obstruct,” Ferguson said in a written statement. “His trademark humor and snow reports on the floor were an ever welcome presence. I appreciate the sacrifices that Linda and his entire family accepted for the good of our State in sharing George with our institution, and I am confident they are looking forward to spending more time with him at the conclusion of this term.”