There isn’t a vacancy in the House of Delegates yet, but leaders of the Montgomery County Muslim Council are pressuring local Democratic leaders to appoint one of their own, former Del. Saqib Ali, to the District 15 seat if Del. Kathleen M. Dumais (D-Montgomery) becomes a judge.
Dumais, who has represented District 15 in the House since 2003 and is currently vice chair of the House Economic Matters Committee, recently applied to become judge of the Montgomery County Circuit Court. She is being vetted along with other candidates by a judicial screening committee, and Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) gets to make the appointment.
Officially, Dumais has applied for the vacancy left by the retirement of former Circuit Court Judge Gary E. Bair. But two other Montgomery County judges, Robert A. Greenberg, the court’s former administrative judge, and Cynthia Callahan, have also recently retired, creating other possible vacancies that Dumais might fill.
If Dumais resigns from the legislature, the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee gets to recommend a replacement to Hogan, who has the final say. In a letter to the central committee Thursday, Montgomery County Muslim Council President Asif Husain, called Ali “highly qualified.”
The central committee, Husain wrote, “has a great tradition of using appointments to fix demographic inequities caused by elections. This would be a key opportunity to fix a major inequity. Since 2011 Montgomery County’s sizable Muslim community has had no representation in the House of Delegates. This is a major concern for us, especially given the considerable stress on the Muslim community in the past few years. We believe that this is the time for the Muslim community to be represented by a highly qualified candidate such as Saqib Ali.”
Ali is seeking a return to political office; he represented the adjoining 39th District in the House of Delegates from 2007 to 2011, and gave up his legislative seat to challenge state Sen. Nancy J. King (D) in the 2010 Democratic primary. King prevailed by 3.4 points.
Ali also attempted a political comeback in 2012, when he ran unsuccessfully for Montgomery County Board of Education. Ali already has been running for a District 15 House seat in the 2022 Democratic primary. Two of the district’s three incumbents, Del. David Fraser-Hidalgo (D) and Del. Lily Qi (D), are expected to run again. Assuming Dumais becomes a judge or chooses not to seek re-election in 2022, it isn’t clear what other Democrats might run in the primary ― or apply to fill her seat if there is a vacancy.