ANNAPOLIS — Steve Hershey, a state senator representing Maryland’s upper Eastern Shore, will not seek reelection to his leadership role as minority whip for the Senate Republican Caucus, the caucus announced Tuesday, Oct. 6.
Hershey, who was first appointed to fill a vacant Senate seat in 2013 and then elected to his first full term in the Senate in 2014, still has two more years of his second term to serve.
The senator served as minority whip for six years, and the Maryland General Assembly’s upcoming 2021 legislative session will mark his eighth year in the state Senate.
In an interview Wednesday, Hershey said his opting not to run for Senate leadership reelection does not mean he won’t seek to hang on to his District 36 seat when it’s up for grabs in 2022.
“Deciding not to run for minority whip doesn’t disrupt my capabilities or diminish my effectiveness to represent the 36th District in Annapolis,” he said, adding he has “every intention to continue my public service here on the Eastern Shore.”
Senate Minority Leader J.B. Jennings, who served in Senate leadership alongside Hershey, also announced Tuesday he is not seeking reelection to his post. Hershey said it was “a pleasure” to serve with Jennings, whom he called a “well respected and like-minded leader.”
“At this juncture we both agreed it was time to turn over what we’ve built and our model for successes to another team,” Hershey said. “We felt the timing was right for this team to begin, settle in and lead us into the upcoming 2022 elections.”
As for who might step up to lead Maryland’s Republican senators in the pair’s place, Hershey declined to name prospects. He said the caucus is scheduled to meet this Saturday, Oct. 10, to hold its annual elections and preview the 2021 session.
“There are a number of very capable leaders within our caucus,” Hershey said. “J.B. and I led a caucus that was willing to work across the aisle to help create the best possible policy while never shying away from a battle to protect our conservative values. I think our caucus will continue to expect that.”
Of the senators announcing their departure from caucus leadership, Senate President Bill Ferguson said in a statement that he respects their decision to step down. Hershey and Jennings, Ferguson said, have been able to “disagree without being disagreeable” and they were “steadfast advocates for the Republican Caucus and their issues during their time as Leader and Whip.”
“At a time when partisanship has reached extremes, Senators Jennings and Hershey always focused on what is most important: solving problems for our constituents,” he said. “This leadership style benefited all Marylanders, regardless of political affiliation.”
Ferguson said he hopes “the Minority Caucus will elect leaders who will continue to focus on the values of productivity and collaboration that define the Senate of Maryland.”