Freshman House Dems Choose New Assistant Majority Leader

    Del. Wanika B. Fisher (D-Prince George's) is the new assistant House majority leader. File photo

    Just after Labor Day, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) announced that she was changing the way the person holding the position of assistant majority leader would be selected.

    Once another chit for the speaker to dole out, the position moving forward would be filled by a freshman Democrat selected by his or her fellow freshmen – giving junior members of the Democratic Caucus a place in leadership, Jones said.

    “The position will report directly to the Majority Leader and sit in leadership meetings with me, acting as a conduit for the freshman class during the rest of the term,” she wrote in a memo to her colleagues in September. “The position will act as a guide and mentor for the first year of the next class of freshman legislators until they elect their own representative at the end of their first year.”

    The freshman Democrats took their vote last week, and the new assistant majority leader will be Del. Wanika B. Fisher (D-Prince George’s). According to an email obtained by Maryland Matters, Fisher prevailed over Del. Melissa R. Wells (D-Baltimore City) by a vote of 25-13.

    The freshmen class held a forum for the two candidates last week; some members voted for their preference immediately after the forum, while others emailed their votes later to Dels. Jazz Lewis (D-Prince George’s) and Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery), who were put in charge of the election.

    “Thank you again to both candidates for your leadership and bringing the first year cohort together to add a new voice in leadership discussions,” Lewis and Charkoudian wrote in an email to their colleagues. “In particular, congratulations to Delegate Fisher and we know you will perform wonderfully in the new role.”

    Fisher, a 31-year-old attorney, is the youngest African-American woman in the General Assembly. She grew up in Rye Brook, N.Y., just north of New York City, and came to Maryland to attend the University of Maryland. She earned her law degree at Penn State University, started working in New York, then returned to Maryland to work for a mentor, then-Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), when Ivey became a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2013.

    She won her seat last year by ousting Del. Carlo Sanchez, who had been appointed to the job, in the Democratic primary.

    [email protected]

    Josh Kurtz
    Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.