OC Businessman Weighing Run At New Delegate Seat

OCEAN CITY — A familiar name and face could join the race for the newly created House District 38C, as resort hotel owner and tourism advocate Michael James is considering throwing his hat in the ring.
District 38C was created during the 2012 legislative redistricting process following the last U.S. Census in 2010. It is an entirely new district carved out of the old combination of Districts 38A and 38B. It encompasses much of northern Worcester County including Ocean City, West Ocean City, Ocean Pines and a considerable amount of Worcester County east of Route 113 and stretches nearly to Salisbury. The town of Berlin, however, is now part of District 38A, which includes southern Worcester County and stretches north along the west side of Route 113.
Already, Ocean City resident and long-time public servant at the state and federal level Mary Beth Carozza has thrown her well-adorned hat in the ring for District 38C, as has Democratic challenger Mike Hindi of Ocean Pines, but James, Carousel Hotel and Resort managing partner and Ocean City Economic Development Committee chairman, could soon be joining the race. The issue was broached at last week’s EDC meeting when Ocean City Councilwoman Mary Knight urged James to consider joining the fray.
“The new district delegate has to be tourism-minded,” she said. “It has to be somebody that has our best interest at heart.”
James said this week he has been encouraged by his business colleagues and other supporters from previous runs at public office to run for the new District 38C seat. James ran for the old District 38B seat in 2006 and came in a close third to eventual winners James Mathias and Norm Conway. In 2010, James again challenged Mathias for the District 38 Senate seat and lost by one percentage point.
“A lot of people have asked me about it and encouraged me to run,” he said. “I’ve heard it for weeks, last week, yesterday and today even. That new district is real attractive to me because it’s where I live and where I do business.”
James would draw on his vast experience in the hotel and hospitality business in the resort and elsewhere. He also chaired the state’s Tourism Advisory Board for five years after being appointed to the position by former Gov. Bob Ehrlich. While he hasn’t committed to seeking the new 38C seat, he certainly appears to be leaning that way.
“We absolutely have to have somebody from the business community here in that seat,” he said. “We need to have somebody that really understands tourism, the hotel and restaurant business and retail. If it’s not me, then we certainly need to have somebody that can be a strong voice for Ocean City, Worcester County and the Lower Shore.”
In his prior attempts at state elected office, James ran on a strong platform of pro-business and pro-tourism and it served him well despite his narrow losses. With the state district elections looming in 2014, James would likely draw from those same experiences along with his conservative views of family and quality of life.
“That district is really tailored to the platform I’ve run on before,” he said. “We need to have less restriction and government intrusion on business. I think I can bring that to the table.”
While he certainly appears to be leaning toward running, James said a lot of factors need to be considered.
“It will be a tough decision and one I would make only after carefully consulting with my family and my business partners,” he said. “We have a lot going on right now and any decision would have to be based on what’s best for all of us.”