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).