Prince George’s Democrats Tap Del. Watson For Vacant Senate Seat

Prince George's County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) speaks on behalf of Del. Ronald L. Watson (D) at Tuesday night's meeting of the Prince George County Democratic Central Committee. At right is committee chairwoman Cheryl Landis. Screenshot.

The Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee on Tuesday unanimously chose Del. Ronald L. Watson (D) to fill the District 23 State Senate vacancy created by the resignation of Douglas J.J. Peters (D).

The recommendation will be forwarded to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), who has 15 days to formally appoint Watson to the post.

A first-term delegate, he defeated Sylvia L. Johnson, the CEO of a biomedical consulting firm. The vote was 21-0.

“It’s truly an honor and I’m very humbled to try to fill [Sen. Peter’s] large shoes,” Watson said in an interview. “But I will do my very best to continue the level of service and exactitude that he gave to the 23rd District.”

Watson’s bid for the Senate was supported by County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) and Bowie Mayor Tim Adams (D), a candidate for state comptroller, both of whom spoke on his behalf.

Alsobrooks called him “a fierce advocate for our children and our school system… who will be ready on Day 1.”

Watson will represent District 23 in next year’s legislative session. But Johnson signaled before the vote that she still intends to run in next year’s state Senate primary, slated for June 28.

“We need a new brand of inclusive leadership,” she said in an interview. “My platform is progressive. … I’m here to represent my neighbors who have told me that they are tired, that they feel that they’re not heard.”

Johnson said she has no interest in running for Watson’s soon-to-be-vacant seat in the House of Delegates.

Watson is a former member of the county school board who serves on the House Judiciary Committee and on the Joint Committee on Cyber-Security.

He served 14 years in the U.S. Army and is the owner of a company that provides consulting services for the Department of Defense and other agencies.

Johnson launched her bid to take on Peters in late June. Soon thereafter, Peters — who served as chairman of the powerful capital budget subcommittee — announced he would not seek a fifth term in the Senate.

Days later, Hogan appointed Peters to the University of Maryland Board of Regents, a move that prompted Watson to declare his interest in the seat.

Johnson was appointed to the county’s Human Relations Commission by Alsobrooks. She also served on the board of Doctors Hospital.

The crescent-shaped district runs from South Laurel through Bowie to Upper Marlboro, along the MD 301 corridor. The General Assembly will soon redraw the state’s legislative districts using 2020 Census data, potentially upending the rematch between the two candidates who vied to serve out the remaining 17 months of Peters’ term.

The Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee could soon have another vacancy to fill.

Del. Erek L. Barron (D) has been nominated by President Biden to be the next U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.

He has represented neighboring District 24 in the House of Delegates since 2015.

Baltimore delegate appointed

Also on Tuesday, Hogan formally appointed Roxane Prettyman (D) to represent District 44A in the House of Delegates. Prettyman will finish the term of former Del. Keith E. Haynes, who retired in haste last month.

The district includes parts of southwest and West Baltimore.

Prettyman was a paralegal specialist for the U.S. Social Security Administration for 39 years before retiring in 2018. She has been an active member of the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee since 2015.

“I am confident that Ms. Prettyman will continue to represent her constituency admirably in her new role as delegate,” Hogan said in a written statement. “I offer her my sincere congratulations and look forward to working with her in the upcoming legislative session.”

Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report. 

[email protected]