Maryland State Sen. Ulysses Currie announced Nov. 4 that he will leave the Maryland General Assembly effectively immediately.
Currie was first elected to the Maryland General Assembly in 1986 as a member of the House of Delegates as a Democrat representing District 25, which includes District Heights, and was elected to the Maryland Senate in 1994. Currie expressed sorrow in leaving the upper chamber of the Legislature.
Sen. Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George’s, (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
“I cannot express to you what a privilege and an honor it has been to serve my constituents of Prince George’s County and the great state of Maryland with integrity for so many years,” Currie wrote in a letter to Maryland Senate President Thomas “Mike” Miller that was picked up by the Washington Post. “It is my deep love for my constituents and the Maryland Senate, combined with the recognition that I can no longer serve with the strength and energy you all deserve, that I have decided the time has come to turn the mantle over to a successor.”
Maryland law stipulates that the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee will select his successor and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will appoint the new senator based on the committee’s recommendation. Currie’s resignation comes mere weeks before the Maryland General Assembly convenes in January 2017.
Former Maryland Del. Melody Griffin and Maryland Del. Darryl Barnes, both Democrats from District 25, are reportedly interested in the position, and Prince George’s County Council member Karen Toles (D-District 7) is also a darkhorse candidate. Currie was up for re-election in 2018.
Currie was known in Annapolis for his advocacy for those who are low-income people of color and small and minority businesses. He was a force in regulating businesses giving out payday loans and fought for more funds for the state’s predominantly Black colleges as the chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee.
It was widely rumored that when Miller steps down as Senate president, Currie would have been a frontrunner to replace him and that would have made him the first African American to lead a legislative chamber in Maryland.
Currie faced legal challenges in 2010 when he was caught up in a corruption scandal as a consultant for a supermarket. He was ultimately cleared of the charges but was censured by his colleagues in the Senate. Nevertheless, he won re-election in 2010 and 2014, including a spirited challenge from Griffin in the latter race.
In 2015, the Senate honored him with its First Citizen Award.