RIP: Sen. Wayne Norman (R-35) Dies Suddenly; Gov. to Fill Seat with Appointee

March 4, 2018

Sen. Wayne Norman (R-35), a cheerful political presence in Harford and Cecil Counties who pursued a conservative legislative agenda and a personal agenda of kindness and humor, died suddenly Sunday at his home. He was unopposed for re-election in both the Republican primary and on the November general election ballot.

Gov. Larry Hogan issued a statement, saying:

“The First Lady and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Maryland State Senator H. Wayne Norman Jr., a distinguished public servant, husband, and father. Our hearts go out to Senator Norman’s wife, Linda, their two children, and granddaughter.

“Senator Norman devoted decades of his life to serving his constituents in Harford and Cecil Counties, first at the local level, and then as a Delegate and Senator. His important and dedicated work on the Judicial Proceedings and Ethics Committees will not be soon forgotten, nor will his steadfast advocacy on behalf of rural Marylanders and our veterans.” Hogan added that state flags would be flown at half-staff in Norman’s honor

Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy said he was “deeply saddened by this shocking news and our thoughts and prayers are with the Norman family at this most difficult time. Senator Norman was a great friend of mine and a true and loyal friend of our County.”

Norman was a regular presence at Cecil County community and political events and he was known for his broad grin and down-to-earth manner. He enjoyed fixing up old MG sportscars and riding vintage railroad lines. He is survived by his wife, Linda, two children and a grandchild. Funeral service information was not yet available Sunday evening.

Norman, a graduate of the University of Baltimore and its law school, was a lawyer with a private practice in Bel Air. He was very active in Harford County GOP politics, serving for many years on the local Republican Central Committee. He was appointed to fill a vacant House of Delegates seat when Barry Glassman moved up to the state Senate to fill another vacancy in 2008. When Glassman ran and was elected as Harford County Executive, Norman was appointed to fill his Senate seat. Norman then ran and won the seat in his own right four years ago.

Since Norman was a Republican, state law provides that the Republican Central Committees in Harford and Cecil counties will meet independently and pick a nominee to fill the vacant seat, with the final decision and appointment made by the governor. Usually, the governor abides by the decision of the local committees But in a recent case of a disputed local vacancy fight, in the District 36 vacancy caused by the resignation of Republican E.J. Pipkin several years ago, the four county central committees split 2-2 and then-Gov. O’Malley broke the tie and selected then-Delegate Steve Hershey of Queen Anne’s County for the seat.

Hershey said Sunday that he was “stunned and heartbroken” to learn of Norman’s death. Calling Norman a “kind and caring man,” Hershey added that his legislative colleagues were “devastated over the loss of our friend.”

While serving in Annapolis, Norman had twice tossed his hat in the ring for an appointment to a seat on the Harford County Circuit Court when vacancies arose. But he was passed over by nomination panels.

Glassman, the Harford County executive who was succeeded twice in the General Assembly by Norman, is expected to play an important role in that county’s GOP committee process to pick a successor to Norman.

But the Cecil County GOP panel, which is now chaired by Diane Carabetta, has had major turnover since the last election, with nearly half of its members appointed to fill vacancies after members resigned or left the area. In the past, one current member of the Cecil GOP panel, Del. Kevin Hornberger (R-35), was the subject of speculation for interest in a possible appointment to Norman’s Senate seat if Norman had been selected for a judgeship.

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