A week after the public airing of a rift between the top two House Republicans in Annapolis, the House GOP Caucus re-elected Del. Jason C. Buckel (R-Allegany) as minority leader and selected Del. Haven N. Shoemaker Jr. (R-Carroll) to serve as minority whip.
Shoemaker will replace Del. Christopher T. Adams (R-Lower Shore), who served as whip for just eight months. Shoemaker’s tenure will be short-lived, however: He plans to leave the legislature at the end of 2022 and is running for Carroll County state’s attorney in the June Republican primary.
The Buckel-Shoemaker ticket defeated a ticket headed by Adams as the candidate for minority leader and Del. Matt Morgan (R-St. Mary’s) as the candidate for whip “by more than a 2-1 margin,” the House Republican Caucus said in a statement.
While House Republicans were already scheduled to elect leaders for the upcoming General Assembly session before its Jan. 12 kickoff, the contest took on unanticipated drama when Adams resigned his whip position last week in protest after harassment charges were brought against Buckel by a state trooper in criminal court. Although the charges were later withdrawn, Buckel expressed disappointment with Adams and said he was glad he had resigned his leadership post.
Buckel and Adams had only become the top House Republicans in April, after the previous leadership team, Del. Nicholaus R. Kipke (R-Anne Arundel) and Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore County) stepped down after seven years on the job.
“I am honored by this show of confidence from my Republican colleagues,” Buckel said in a statement following the GOP caucus vote Thursday. “In 2022, Republicans in Maryland are standing at the precipice of opportunity. Failures of soft-on-crime policies that plague our communities, parents’ lack of voice in their children’s education, and Maryland’s high tax burden and spiraling cost of living all are energizing citizens to demand change. The members of our Caucus can provide the change Marylanders still yearn for when we are united in our efforts.”
By choosing Shoemaker as whip, Republicans are turning to a vocal conservative who can at times be witty and at other times be acerbic on the House floor. The position will elevate Shoemaker’s profile as he wages his campaign for state’s attorney.
“It is humbling to be selected by my Republican colleagues during this tumultuous time in our State and Nation,” Shoemaker said in a statement. “I look forward to meeting the challenges of the 2022 Legislative Session as our Caucus fights for a better Maryland.”
Carroll County’s previous state’s attorney, Brian DeLeonardo, who had served since 2014, stepped down in July to become a Circuit Court judge. His interim replacement, Allen J. Culver, has not yet said whether he plans to run for a full term next year. David Ellin, an attorney who ran unsuccessfully in a Republican primary for House of Delegates in 2018, is also running for state’s attorney.