Harford County delegation coup
A nasty battle erupted this week among Harford County lawmakers, resulting in a coup ousting the delegation chairwoman and vice-chairman, and the installation of a new leader -- Republican J.B. Jennings -- whose district includes more Baltimore County voters than Harford.
At the center of the flap is Del. Richard K. Impallaria, a rough-edged and sometimes emotional lawmaker who got into a shouting match with a colleague, Del. Donna Stifler. Both are Republicans.
Impallaria and Stifler argued last week over payment for snacks at delegation events. Impallaria hurled invectives at Stifler, a former Christian school teacher, who told The Aegis newspaper that "I have never been spoken to like that in my life."
Impallaria has a history of outbursts, some of which have prompted police investigations. When he was running for office for the first time in 2002, some Republicans urged him to drop out of the race when his police record came to light.
As the Baltimore Sun reported at the time: "Impallaria's record shows nine cases involving 27 charges, most of which were not prosecuted for unrecorded reasons or dismissed, according to Maryland District Court documents. The charges include bribing a public employee and four counts of assault with intent to murder stemming from allegations that he tried to run down four people, including his mother and brother, with a car after an argument at his home in Joppatowne in Harford County in 1982."
In 2004, police investigated an incident in a House of Delegates building during which Impallaria and Del. Pat McDonough, staunch opponents of illegal immigration, got into a shoving match with immigration activists.
After the Friday argument over snack payments, some members of the Harford delegation hastily convened a meeting Monday night, after the House of Delegates gathered for its evening session. At the meeting, Impallaria was voted out as vice-chairman of the delegation. Also ousted was the chairwoman, Del. Susan McComas. Jennings replaces McComas, and Del. Wayne Norman takes the vice-chairman's spot.
McComas and Impallaria did not attend the meeting and are claiming the vote was improper. They're circulating a letter, available on the blog of Judd Legum, who brought the whole issue to our attention, outlining why the coup was improper.
But there's not much they can stand on. Quickly called delegation meetings are fairly frequent in Annapolis, and the delegations get to pick their own leaders. The leadership positions are important because General Assembly bills affecting just one county need the vote of the delegation, and the chairman controls that legislation.
It looks like Impallaria's temper may have gotten the better of him again, depriving him and an ally of a leadership foothold.