The county's Republican committee Wednesday nominated former state lawmaker Barrie Ciliberti as a replacement for Maryland Delegate Kelly Schulz, making the decision in a closed-door meeting that drew protesters unhappy with the selection process.
Ciliberti beat out another former delegate, Paul Stull, in securing the support from a majority of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee, according to a news release. The committee declined to release the exact vote count.
"We are very excited to have selected Dr. Ciliberti as our nominee in District 4. He has a wide range of experiences that will be beneficial as he serves the citizens of Frederick and Carroll counties," committee chairwoman JoeyLynn Hough said in a written statement. "I believe that Dr. Ciliberti will serve us well and stick to his conservative principles and be a valued ally of Governor-elect Hogan."
The recommendation will now go to Gov.-elect Larry Hogan for a final decision. Since a small piece of Carroll County also lies in District 4, the GOP committee in that jurisdiction will also nominate someone for the post.
Last week, the Frederick County committee whittled down the list of applicants from 18 to three. One of their picks, Christopher D. Glass Sr., did not appear for an interview Wednesday, leaving only Ciliberti and Stull in the running.
Ciliberti served in the Maryland House of Delegates as a Montgomery County representative in the 1990s, while Stull represented District 4A from 1995 to 2011. Ciliberti has also been a small-business owner, professor and U.S. State Department official, according to a committee news release.
The committee's Wednesday night meeting took place in the downtown Frederick offices of lawyer Rand Weinberg. On a frigid sidewalk outside the front door stood a bundled-up and shivering group of about 20 protesters upset that Wendi Peters was not one of the three finalists for the delegate seat.
Near the meeting's start, the protesters entered Weinberg's office and demanded admittance to the meeting. A security officer told the protesters they were on private property and ordered them from the building, said Jill King, who helped coordinate the protest.
Hough said the central committee's bylaws stipulate that the interviews and nomination are closed to the public.
Peters was on the District 4 primary ballot earlier this year along with Ciliberti and three others. She beat Ciliberti by 601 votes, but as the fourth-place finisher overall, she was one spot shy of moving on to the general election.
Peters' backers say the central committee should have considered that she was next in line in the primary vote totals. The committee also failed to account for the flood of supportive messages that accompanied her application for the District 4 seat, her supporters argue.
Billy Shreve, a central committee member, said his group followed the bylaws and used the same nomination process that have been in place for years.
Larry Helminiak, vice chairman of the Carroll County Republican Central Committee, said his committee has watched in approval as Frederick County Republicans have searched for a nominee. Members of the Carroll County committee plan to use the same process, although they will seek to make the selection more private to minimize any controversy surrounding it, he said.
Peters said she was not behind Wednesday's protest and did not attend it. However, she said the committee's decision not to include her as a finalist had disenfranchised voters.
"They're not listening to the public demand," King, a local Republican who helped organize the gathering, said in a phone interview.
King does not accuse the committee of breaking its bylaws but does believe the process so far has political undertones. Several of the nine central committee members have ties to Sen.-elect Michael Hough, whose wife is the group's chairwoman. During the election earlier this year, Hough ran on a slate with Ciliberti; Peters was supported by Hough's opponent, Sen. David Brinkley, R-District 4.
Shreve said the committee simply stuck to the process outlined in their bylaws.
The search for a new delegate began after Hogan appointed Schulz as Maryland's secretary of labor, licensing and regulation. The District 4 seat is expected to become vacant when Schulz resigns her delegate seat, a move she intends to make when the state Senate lawmakers approve her Cabinet appointment.
Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.