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Stone Won't Run For Senate In 2014

"I think it's time," said the Democratic state senator who represented Dundalk for more than 50 years.

[Bryan P. Sears] Sen. Norman Stone said Monday he plans to retire at the end of his 12th term in office. Stone is the longest serving member in the Maryland Senate.
[Bryan P. Sears] Sen. Norman Stone said Monday he plans to retire at the end of his 12th term in office. Stone is the longest serving member in the Maryland Senate.

UPDATED—State Sen. Norman Stone said Monday that he will not seek re-election after more than 50 years in the Maryland General Assembly.

"I've decided that 52 years is enough," said Stone in an interview. "I think it's time."

Stone will attend a campaign fundraiser event for Del. John Olszewski Jr. Tuesday where the two-term delegate is expected to announce his intent to run for Stone's seat.

In an interview with Patch in January, Stone called Olszewski the likely successor to the Senate seat.

Monday night, Stone said he plans to support Olszewski, who turns 31 in September.

Stone, who turns 79 in September, celebrated his golden anniversary in the General Assembly in January 2012. Since then he has dodged questions about his plans for 2014. Stone acknowledged that he had hoped to delay a formal announcement until as late as October. 

“I think Johnny wanted to make his announcement at his event,” Stone said. “He needs to get moving.”

Stone grew up in Highlandtown where he attended public schools in the city. 

It was in the late 1950s that Stone bought his first home in the Battle Grove community—a community of neatly manicured postage stamp-sized front lawns fronting brick row houses built and populated by blue collar guys, many who worked at the nearby steel mills. 

The $9,000 home cost Stone $78 a month in mortgage payments.

Stone earned $100 a week as a bricklayer as he worked his way through the University of Baltimore School of Law and graduated in 1960.

The east side of Baltimore County was the center of political power at that time. Stone joined the Battle Grove Democratic Club.

It wasn’t long after joining the club that Stone received a call at home early one morning from Michael “Iron Mike” Birmingham. The east side Democratic political boss, who later went on to become Baltimore County’s first county executive, asked Stone to run for the House of Delegates. Few people turned down such a request from Birmingham. Stone was elected in 1962 to his first and only term in the House of Delegates, Stone said in a 2010 interview.

Four years later Stone was elected to what would be 12 consecutive terms in the Senate—the most of any senator in Maryland. Political observers said Stone maybe one longest-serving legislators in the country.

During his tenure, Stone was chair or vice chair of a number of committees and subcommittees that now no longer exist.

“In 1963, there were only two committees [in the House] that met every day—Judiciary and Ways and Means,” Stone said. “The others only met when they received bills.”

Most recently, Stone served as Senate President Pro Tem from 1995-1999 and since 2000 has been Senate Pro Tem Emeritus, an honorary title recognizing his long service.

He twice served as chairman of the county delegation to the Senate, first from 1968-1972 and then again from 2003-2010.

Stone has been co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics since 2003. 

Stone’s time in the Senate has not always passed smoothly.

In 2002, Stone was one of a number of legislators and others who filed suit attempting to strike down a redistricting map drawn up by then-Gov. Parris Glendening.

Stone opposed the governor on a gay rights bill and other legislation and Glendening responded, in part, by drawing a new district for Stone that spanned both sides of the Patapsco River and was only attached by a sinewy strand of highway that is the Francis Scott Key Bridge. 

Stone’s argument was one of the few that prevailed as the state Court of Appeals struck down Glendening’s plan and opted to redraw the map on their own. The result of that decision created a 6th district for Stone that covered Dundalk and part of Essex and was wholly within the boarders of Baltimore County.

Stone ran unopposed in 2002 and trounced Bill Kushernick, his Republican opponent in 2006, by more than a 2-1 margin.

But in 2010, Norman Stone, then 75, narrowly defeated political upstart Jordan Hadfield, then 27, in the Democratic primary.

Hadfield made the issue about Stone’s age and time in office and outworked Stone in a door-to-door campaign that included shoveling snow during that winter’s twin blizzards, which are often referred to as Snowpocalypse. 

“My age was an issue then and that was four years ago,” Stone said Monday.

Since being re-elected in 2010, Stone, a moderate Democrat, has been criticized by education advocates in his home county and political bloggers from outside Baltimore County who represent the left wing of his party.

Stone over the last decade has steadfastly opposed the creation of any form of elected school board in the county.

In 2012, Stone twice drew the ire of David Moon, a blogger who runs the Democratic political blog MarylandJuice.com.

Most notably, it was for an anti-bestiality bill sponsored by Stone that was later withdrawn.

“Maryland Juice is glad Mr. Stone’s colleagues think this is a laughing matter, because I consider [Stone] a disgrace to the Democratic Party and the institution of the State Senate,” Moon wrote in a Feb. 9, 2012 post. “He is a relic from a hateful part of America’s past and somehow the leadership of this State decided to keep him around—and give him committee chairmanships.

Moon called Stone “a jerk” and called for the senator’s defeat. 

“Will somebody #PRIMARYHISASS?” Moon wrote. “I am collecting $1 pledges from potential donors.”

Just the day before, Moon skewered Stone for his pro-death penalty positions and opposing a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and for a vote Stone cast in 1967 against a bill that would have allowed interracial couples to marry in Maryland.

A number of legislators who represent Baltimore County have announced in recent months their decisions to not seek re-election. 

Some have said the changing political climate played a part in their decisions. 

"The House of Delegates is going more liberal and I'm a middle of the road, moderate Democrat," said Democratic Del. Steve DeBoy in a May interview. "You start to feel you're being marginalized. You just can't stop some of this stuff."

Del. Emmett Burns specifically cited the effects of losing battles related to same-sex marriage, the Maryland DREAM Act and a bill granting drivers licenses to people who are in the country illegally.

"The legislature has become too liberal for me," Burns, a Democrat, said last month. "I don't need the headache anymore."

Stone said a changing political climate was not a motivating factor in his decision.

“I don’t think we have that problem in the Senate,” said Stone, adding that tough battles on bills had not worn him down. “I sat through a gun bill hearing this year that was 14 or 16 hours. That’s what Annapolis is all about. You’ve got to be prepared to tackle the tough issues. “

Stone, an attorney in the Law Offices of Peter Angelos, said his retirement is limited to the legislature.

“I still plan to go into the law office every day,” Stone said. “And every day January through April beginning in 2015.”

DHAMMER July 16, 2013 at 12:01 AM
The Senator knows it's a loosing Battle in Annapolis and that his Party is to far left to bring it back.
jack friese July 16, 2013 at 08:15 AM
part 1 Together both Olszewski's can't fill the shoes of Senator Norman Stone. Even though I am on the opposite aisle with Senator Stone he is a great and remarkable legislator who will be missed. While I do not agree with many of Senator Stones positions, he did a good job in Annapolis for most of his constituents, on many issues. Senator Stone, the Olszewski's, rubber legged Weir and Minnick did nothing to help my son who is stuck in the DHR cesspool and Judge Vicki Ballou-Watts, CINA Kangaroo circuit court at 401 Bosley- for almost five years. Meccas Place (Stephanie Franklin) is the CINA lawyer group that is supposed to represent my son. Instead they are appointed by this corrupt broken and criminal State agency call DHR. Meccas Place has been paid more than 4 million dollars by DHR to represent CINA kids. Instead they suck up to clowns like Teflon Teddy Dallas, Scahgrin and Branch. And yes, I include Ballou-Watts in this group. It is a terribly broken CINA/TPR system that damages kids and tears families apart Judy Schagrin. It is past time for a change in parties in Dundalk and Md. This lopsided Annapolis General Assembly has taken Maryland residents to the brink of disaster. Its past time to throw out all the bums in Annapolis, irrespective of party. Keep in mind who brought us the higher taxes, the gun grab,the rain tax, the Jim Smith Rule, same sex "marriage", repeal of the death penalty and so much more horrible legislation. ...... more to follow
jack friese July 16, 2013 at 08:19 AM
part 2 Has Delegate Olszewski or his father councilman Olszewski publicly addressed Kamenetz's sell off of public property to "friends of Kevin"? No! Olszewski Sr. and Jr. are part of the Kamenetz/OweMalley/Brown radical gang that could care less about the voters who put them in office. It is way past time to clean house in Annapolis irrespective of party or our kids and grandkids will be bear the burden of these bureaucrats until the day they die. Senator Stone you earned your retirement. Not many have accomplished what you have consistently for fifty years. Good, luck, Good health and enjoy your retirement you really earned it. The 98 Democrat Delegates and 35 Democrat State Senators have moved too far left. Many good legislators are opting out of politics because of radical O'Malley & Brown. Throw the radicals in Annapolis and Maryland out in 2014. 98 Democrat Delegates and 35 Democrat Senators in Annapolis are too far left and have really screwed all Marylanders with their radical politics. Let's change that voters.
Buzz Beeler July 16, 2013 at 08:22 AM
Quite frankly I'm disappointed in the Senator's decision to back Mr. Olszewski, Jr. If Sen. Stone is going to retire then retire and let the chips fall where the voters allow them to gather. Norman was much more conservative and not part of the current political agenda with it's left leaning ideology. The current machine will stay well oiled with this choice.
Buzz Beeler July 16, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Matthew, the Democrats have been in power for a long time. As the man with - no name - would say: "You gotta ask yourself a question, do you feel lucky?" That question would concern the current living conditions in this area and my blog says no, we have actually declined. Now John is a Democrat and has favored status, but I can't think of one bill he had passed.
Eric Bromwell July 16, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Part of the reason you don't know of any bills is that Governor O'Malley keeps making them part of his legislative package.. The EARN bill for instance, was Johnny O. Jr.'s baby. The Governor liked it so much that he got his entire legislative team behind it. Johnny O. Jr. is THE rising star in Baltimore County. He is an honest man, a family man, a spiritual man and on his way to earning his doctorate. He has been elected Chairman of the Baltimore County Delegation three times, all by unanimous vote. He is fair and doesn't let partisanship divide Baltimore County's 21 votes. Democrats and Republicans keep voting for him because he is a leader. I'm proud to serve with him and think he will make an exceptional Senator.
ron schaeffer July 16, 2013 at 11:04 PM
eric-what did you think of the rain tax vote?
Buzz Beeler July 17, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Eric, I've seen him play both sides against the middle in the last election. The whole time Bartnefelder praised him as a team player he turned right around and rode on Kamenetz's float in the parade. Where's the honor in that? How many deals did he make with O'Malley on various votes? As I said before your team has been in charge and we've gone backwards and the facts show that. Without the government jobs, this state would be in real trouble. As it is now we are one of the highest taxed states in the country. Rising star in the county? Better take a look around because the county is in trouble. but then again so is the whole country and as soon as the Fed stops printing money and the interest rates rise, your balloon will burst. It's called recession!
Eric Bromwell July 17, 2013 at 09:24 AM
Ron- I voted against the rain tax. Buzz- As Chairman of the Delegation, Johnny O. Jr. has been anything but a rubber stamp for the County Executive. You will find no bigger fan of Joe Bartenfelder than me, but that is how politics works sometimes. Joe did the same thing during the election, and I think neither he, nor John should be judged for it. I say judge the man by the work he has done. He and I fought quite a few of the Governor's bills over the past few years. Not too many Dems in Annapolis are willing to do so.
Buzz Beeler July 18, 2013 at 06:50 AM
Eric, I would agree with your summary on Olszsewski's relationship with Kamenetz. Joe has his own issues to deal with and they could be cumbersome. Wasn't John the deciding vote in one of the major issues in O'Malley's agenda on gay marriage? I also think there were some strings attached to the deal making vote. I heard about the gathering the other night and sounds as if the the torch is being passed without the voters having a say. The political machine is alive and well and that in my opinion is a major problem. I'm doing some fact checking but didn't John accept money from one the pac's regarding his deciding vote?

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