After a half-life in the House, Dereck Davis will become Md. Treasurer

On Thursday, colleagues at Dereck Davis overwhelmingly elected him to be the 24th state treasurer in Maryland history.

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Dereck Eugene Davis was 27 when he was elected to represent Prince George County in the House of Delegates in 1994.

“When I entered, I was serving [in Annapolis] with giants like Clarence Blount and Elijah Cummings, ”said Davis (D) in an interview Thursday. “As a fellow African American, I didn’t want to be the only one embarrassing myself.”

He did well.

Davis quickly rose through the ranks in the House, spending 19 years as chair of the Economic Affairs Committee, a role with a huge portfolio that made him one of its most powerful members. In 2019, Davis missed a few dozen votes to become Speaker of the House.

Now Davis’ time as a member of the House is drawing to a close, having spent half of his life in the legislature. On Thursday, his colleagues overwhelmingly elected him to be the 24th state treasurer in Maryland history (until the 1850s, Maryland’s east and west coasts had separate treasurers).

The counting of the secret ballots came to a halt when Davis reached 94 votes, a majority in the General Assembly. Another candidate, the government CPA Joseph Zimmerman, got a vote. Unique written votes were cast for Robin L. Grammer III – presumably the son of Del. Robin L. Grammer Jr. (R-Baltimore County) – and for “Let’s Go Brandon,” conservative coded language for “F *** Joe Biden.”

On December 17, Davis will be sworn in to replace Nancy K. Kopp (D), who is retiring after nearly two decades as treasurer – and half a century of state government service. Davis will be Prince George County’s first State Treasurer and the second African American to hold the position, after Richard N. Dixon (D) of Carroll County, who served from 1996 to 2002.

Davis was invited to the gallery to address his longtime colleagues in the House. “So, here’s what it looks like from here,” he joked – a reference to his unsuccessful run for the speaker job in 2019.

“The incredible show of support means a lot to me,” continued Davis. “It is with great humility and a spirit of thanksgiving that I stand before you today as the elected treasurer of the State of Maryland.”

Davis’ 10-minute speech to his colleagues was full of memories, jokes, and gratitude to Kopp and members of the legislative staff – and especially his colleagues on economic matters.

“It was truly a blessing to be your chair for 19 sessions,” he said.

Davis also had a request for lawmakers: “When I come before your budget committee and the supply committee, don’t give me bullshit.” Just give me my damn money.

Immediately after Davis’ speech, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) announced that Del. CT Wilson (D-Charles) would take the hammer at Economic Matters.

Next, Davis walked through the lobby of State House to thank state senators for their votes and vowed to represent both houses on the Public Works Council to the best of his ability.

Davis ended his speech by recalling a phone conversation he had, after losing his candidacy for Speaker of the House, with the late Speaker of the Senate Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr. (D), who died more early this year.

“He was trying to be soothing at first,” Davis recalls, “and I guess he could sense that I was feeling sorry for myself or something, and then it just flipped.”

The treasurer-elect returned to Miller’s colorful vocabulary.

“He said some things – I can’t repeat them here – that he wanted me to say to other people: let’s just say it was anatomically impossible. The room burst into laughter.

“But it got me out of there, and I certainly appreciate[d] that, ”Davis continued. “President Miller was someone I respected very much.”

Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) welcomed Davis to the Public Works Council, which consists of the Governor, State Comptroller and Treasurer.

“Dereck and I have always had a great relationship,” Hogan said in a statement. “I look forward to welcoming him to the Public Works Council and working with him to continue to change Maryland for the better. “

Kopp will attend another BPW meeting next Wednesday.

In an interview, Davis recalled that when he was first elected to the legislature, he was engaged. Now he has a son who is going to be 23 and a daughter who is 16.

“You look at all the changes that have happened to me and in my life,” he said. “All of the changes took place while I was sitting on the floor in the House of Delegates.”

But Davis has said he’s ready for the next chapter in his public life.

“I’m starting to get excited,” he said. “I resisted this urge. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself.

Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters contributed to this report.

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