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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Del. Saab to Run for Senate, Leaving Incumbent Reilly’s Plans in Doubt

Del. Sid A. Saab (R-Anne Arundel) announced Monday he is running for state Senate in District 33, where there’s already a Republican incumbent. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Del. Sid A. Saab (R-Anne Arundel) plans to run for state Senate in the District 33 Republican primary this year, thrusting the political future of veteran Sen. Edward R. Reilly (R) in doubt.

“Maryland and Anne Arundel County are at a crossroads,” Saab said in a statement. “As a first generation immigrant, I truly appreciate and love the freedoms and opportunities that our great county, state, and country offers us all Americans.”

Saab, who earlier in the election cycle flirted with running for county executive, filed to run for Senate on Friday and publicized his plans in a news release Monday that was circulated by his official legislative email account — a likely violation of government ethics rules.

In an interview, Reilly said Saab’s decision to run for Senate has prompted him to consider retiring. He said he’d make a final decision after legislative district lines are finalized.

The candidate filing deadline is Friday, but that could get pushed back as the Maryland Court of Appeals considers multiple challenges to the state’s new legislative district map. A hearing in those cases is scheduled for Wednesday; a special magistrate tasked by the court to consider the challenges has recommended that the court keep the district boundaries intact.

Once a conservative stronghold, District 33, which takes in Severna Park, Millersville, Crofton, Davidsonville and parts of the Broadneck peninsula, has turned increasingly purple in recent years, and the Maryland General Assembly made it even more favorable for Democrats in the latest round of redistricting. Democrats are high on their candidate for Senate, Dawn Gile, a lawyer and nonprofit leader who has been running since last summer.

In separate interviews Monday, Saab and Reilly said they have been communicating about the delegate’s political plans.

“It creates a dilemma for me,” Reilly said. “I don’t have the resources to fight two expensive battles, in the primary and the general election.”

State Sen. Edward R. Reilly (R-Anne Arundel). Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Through mid-January, Reilly had $99,908 in his campaign account, while Saab reported $198,794 — a figure that included $43,700 in debt to himself for loans he made to his campaign during previous elections. Gile reported $62,256 on hand.

Reilly and Saab have been banned from raising money since the General Assembly session began in January — a restriction that lifts on Tuesday morning. Gile has been able to collect donations over the previous three months.

Saab said he decided to run for Senate in part because he’s a strong believer in term limits. He has served in the House for eight years; Reilly has been in the Senate for 13 years and previously served for seven years on the Anne Arundel County Council.

“In a way, I’ve term-limited myself” by running for Senate, Saab said.

Reilly, 72, has also wounded himself politically in recent weeks. Earlier this legislative session, the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics found Reilly improperly used “the prestige of his state position” for telling a constituent he wouldn’t follow through on legislation he’d promised to work with her on after she contributed money to his Democratic challenger. That’s short of a full-blown reprimand but it’s something that could hurt him on the campaign trail.

Saab did not mention Reilly in his formal statement announcing his plans to run, instead focusing on his legislative priorities.

“I’ve been a relentless advocate for lower taxes, fiscal discipline, and getting tough on crime,” he said. “I want to keep fighting for our families, for better schools, and for public safety in the Maryland State Senate.”

Saab is not the first Republican with visions of taking down Reilly. Earlier in this election cycle, Stacie MacDonald, a wealthy lawyer and businesswoman who self-funded an unsuccessful run for House of Delegates in 2018, filed to seek the GOP Senate nomination in District 33. But she recently withdrew from the race and filed instead to challenge state Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) in the adjoining District 30, which could also become a battleground depending on the broader political environment.


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Del. Saab to Run for Senate, Leaving Incumbent Reilly’s Plans in Doubt