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Election 2022

Finance Committee Chair Delores Kelley Won’t Seek Re-Election in 2022

Sen. Delores G. Kelley (D-Baltimore County), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, does not plan to seek re-election in 2022. File photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Sen. Delores G. Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat who chairs the powerful Finance Committee, will not run for re-election next year.

In an interview with Maryland Matters, Kelley said she recently underwent shoulder surgery to repair an injury sustained while assisting her 87-year-old husband, who has had health challenges.

“It just made me start to think that I’m mortal,” the 85-year-old lawmaker said.

Kelley said she intends to complete her four-year term, which expires in January 2023. Along with Sen. Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s), she is the longest-serving member of the state Senate. She has been chair of the Finance Committee since 2019, taking over following the Democratic primary defeat of longtime chair Thomas M. “Mac” Middleton (D-Charles).

Kelley’s decision not to seek re-election opens up a key position in the 47-member Senate. The Finance panel handles a wide range of matters relating to the state’s banks and financial institutions, commercial laws, consumer protection issues, energy policy, labor relations, and economic development.

Sen. Brian J. Feldman (D-Montgomery) is currently vice chairman of the panel, though Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore) will undoubtedly weigh many factors before deciding who will run the chamber’s four standing committees following the 2022 elections.

The Finance Committee will be one of several panels in the Senate and House of Delegates that will be under new management 13 months from now. House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) has recently announced a series of personnel changes in her chamber.

As currently drawn, Kelley’s district, the 10th, takes in the western edge of Baltimore County, including Randallstown and Reisterstown. Three Democrats represent the district in the House of Delegates, including Jones.

The other two — Dels. Benjamin Brooks and Jay Jalisi, both Democrats — are expected to give serious consideration to a run for the Senate with Kelley’s departure.

Jones finished first in the 2018 primary with Jalisi close behind and Brooks a more distant third. Brooks, 71, is chief deputy majority whip in the House. Jalisi, a 56-year-old physician, was formally reprimanded by his colleagues in 2019 for his harsh treatment of an aide. Both are serving their second terms.

In an interview, Ferguson heaped praise on Kelley, calling her “one of a kind.”

“I have never met somebody who has had the desire to be an exceptional public servant more than her,” he said. “She cares deeply about the job, about doing it right, about showing up, about giving her absolute best.”

When former Senate president Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) announced in 2019 that he would relinquish the gavel after 33 years, a number of senators immediately offered themselves as potential successors. Ferguson was not one of them, but Kelley quietly convinced him to seek the post.

“I would not be in this role but for Delores Kelley pushing me to first consider it, and then, more importantly, to make the decision to do it,” Ferguson said. “I’m terribly sad that she’s not going to be running again.”

A former debate coach at Morgan State University who went on to become a dean at Coppin State University, Dr. Kelley (she received a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Maryland) served one term in the House of Delegates before winning a Senate seat in 1994.

Kelley said she has sponsored nearly 200 pieces of legislation that have become law, many dealing with criminal justice, health care and issues of equality. She said she intends to remain active after she leaves the legislature.

“I feel blessed that I’ve had the opportunity to serve the people of Maryland in many different ways,” she said. “I’ve always been on boards and commissions — so I’ll probably ask to serve on something where I can still do some good. There are many ways to serve.”

“As long as I’m here, I’m going to work hard.”

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Finance Committee Chair Delores Kelley Won’t Seek Re-Election in 2022