This story was updated at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 10, 2023, to include comments from Sen. Susan Lee. It was updated at 6:30 p.m. to note that Del. Ariana Kelly is seeking Lee’s senate seat.
Sen. Susan Lee (D-Dist. 16) has been selected by Gov.-elect Wes Moore to serve as secretary of state for Maryland, making her the first Asian American to hold the position in the state.
Lee was first elected to serve in the House of Delegates in 2002 and the state Senate in 2014. In her time in Annapolis, she’s focused on bills and policies related to domestic violence, gun violence, sex and human trafficking and other parts of criminal law.
She said in a brief interview on Tuesday that she wants use the secretary of state’s office to boost Maryland’s economy, especially regarding international partnerships via the life sciences, biosciences, IT, cybersecurity and similar fields.
“The secretary of state is Maryland’s ambassador, not only to other states, but to the world,” Lee said.
Lee’s appointment leaves a vacancy in District 16, which includes Bethesda, Cabin John, Potomac and other nearby areas.
Del. Ariana Kelly (D-Dist. 16) announced in a news release that she intends to run for the vacancy. Her colleagues in her district, Del. Marc Korman and Del. Sara Love, endorsed her in prepared statements.
“I hope to earn the recommendation of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee. I will encourage members to consider my experience representing District 16, my successful legislative track record, and my established voting history,” Kelly said in a prepared statement.
Under current state law, the county’s Democratic Central Committee will choose Lee’s replacement and send that pick to the governor for consideration. Some committee members, including Michelle Whittaker and Liza Smith, have said that the appointment process should be changed so that no current committee members can apply for the vacancy.
Other committee members, including Saman Qadeer Ahmad, the chair, have said that the rules committee within that body should be given the time to deliberate over that change, and any other possible changes.
Lee said any of the three current delegates in the district–Kelly, Korman, and Love–would be good picks to succeed her.
“All three of them are highly qualified and have great expertise in their area of concentration … and have a very impressive track record of getting bills passed in a variety of fields,” Lee said.
“I’m so excited to work alongside Gov. Wes Moore as Maryland’s next Secretary of State to bring real change to our communities,” Lee said in a prepared statement on Tuesday. “On day one, we’ll be ready to hit the ground running to create an economically thriving state that leaves no one behind—one that puts our working families first and sends a clear message to businesses that we are ready to get to work.”