Maryland Independent - - Com­mu­nity Fo­rum -

but I have al­ways had tremen­dous re­spect for you over the years,” Ho­gan said dur­ing the cer­e­mony. “To­day it is my hope that any mis­un­der­stand­ings that we might have had are just wa­ter un­der the bridge.”

“I can­not think of a more fit­ting trib­ute to a gen­tle­man and a leader who has ded­i­cated so much of his life to this county and to our great state, and to serv­ing oth­ers,” than by re­nam­ing the bridge for Mid­dle­ton, Ho­gan said.

The cor­dial­ity marked a change from two years pre­vi­ously, when Mid­dle­ton had been con­spic­u­ously ab­sent from a cer­e­mony held at the same spot as Ho­gan an­nounced he was au­tho­riz­ing $765 mil­lion for the con­struc­tion of a re­place­ment bridge.

Mid­dle­ton had not been in­vited to the cer­e­mony be­cause the gover­nor’s of­fice had in­ter­preted leg­is­la­tion he had drafted, which had been in­tended to off­set a cut in toll rev­enues that threat­ened fund­ing for the bridge and which the gover­nor sub­se­quently ve­toed, as hav­ing been a per­sonal at­tack on the gover­nor.

Those times ap­peared to be in the past as the two men shook hands and em­braced twice dur­ing the cer­e­mony, and had sev­eral am­i­ca­ble asides.

“I al­most came to tears” at Ho­gan’s words, Mid­dle­ton told the as­sem­bled crowd af­ter be­ing in­tro­duced by Mary­land Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Pete Rahn.

With the 77-year-old bridge as a back­drop, Mid­dle­ton said that when he em­barked on his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer over three decades ear­lier, he had never imag­ined that some­day a bridge in his dis­trict might be named for him.

“I would have set­tled for a land­fill or a sewer treat­ment plant,” he joked.

“You didn’t have to do this,” Mid­dle­ton said to Ho­gan. “You could have waited un­til the [new] bridge was built. But you did it while I was still in of­fice, and that’s so very, very mean­ing­ful to me.”

Con­struc­tion of the re­place­ment bridge is sched­uled to be­gin in 2020, with com­ple­tion ex­pected three years later. Dur­ing his re­marks, Ho­gan an­nounced that the con­trac­tor pro­cure­ment process was now of­fi­cially un­der­way with the is­suance of “re­quest for qual­i­fi­ca­tions” bids from prospec­tive con­trac­tors.

Re­tir­ing South­ern Mary­land del­e­ga­tion chair Del. Sally Jame­son (D-Charles) in­tro­duced the leg­is­la­tion call­ing for the name change dur­ing this year’s Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion.

“Be­lieve me, I had noth­ing to do with egging Sally Jame­son on,” Mid­dle­ton told the at­ten­dees.

In his re­marks, Mid­dle­ton also al­luded to his sur­prise de­feat in the June pri­mary, when he nar­rowly lost to Air Force vet­eran and ac­coun­tant Arthur El­lis.

“When Sally an­nounced that she wasn’t go­ing to seek re-elec­tion, I thought, ‘My gosh, I was hop­ing we would go out [of of­fice] to­gether,’” Mid­dle­ton said. “Lit­tle did I know that we are go­ing to be go­ing out to­gether.”

Mid­dle­ton’s pri­mary loss rep­re­sents an op­por­tu­nity for the Mary­land GOP to pick up an­other se­nate seat in its ef­fort to break the Democrats’ veto-proof ma­jor­ity in that body, which has lasted for nearly a cen­tury.

Fol­low­ing El­lis’ pri­mary win, Bill Dot­son, a

Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Mid­dle­ton (D-Charles), right, gets a ride in a Mary­land De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion bucket truck to un­veil a sign re­nam­ing the Gover­nor Harry W. Nice Memo­rial Bridge af­ter him on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

Del. Sally Jame­son (D-Charles), right, in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion dur­ing this year’s Gen­eral Assem­bly ses­sion to re­name the Gov. Harry W. Nice Memo­rial Bridge af­ter her fel­low Charles County del­e­ga­tion mem­ber and life­long friend Sen. Thomas M. “Mac” Mid­dle­ton (D-Charles).

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