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Political notes: New adventure for DeMarco, new chief at energy agency and a message in the mud

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Political notes: New adventure for DeMarco, new chief at energy agency and a message in the mud

May 21, 2024 | 6:40 pm ET
By Josh Kurtz
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Political notes: New adventure for DeMarco, new chief at energy agency and a message in the mud
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Jamie DeMarco, right, pictured earlier this year with sponsors and advocates of a bill that would have forced polluters to pay for climate damage. DeMarco is about to take a new direction in his advocacy career. Photo by Josh Kurtz.

Jamie DeMarco, the Maryland director of the regional Chesapeake Climate Action Network and a second-generation Annapolis lobbyist, is about to embark on a new, adjacent professional journey.

Beginning Aug. 1, DeMarco will move over to the environmental group’s advocacy organization, the CCAN Action Fund, to simultaneously work on two independent expenditure campaigns this election season: one to defeat former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and elect Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) in Maryland’s U.S. Senate race, the other to bolster President Joe Biden’s reelection in Pennsylvania.

“I’ll be spending the entire fall working to get them elected,” DeMarco said. “I’m really looking forward to it. Organizing is at my core.”

Then, shortly after Election Day, DeMarco will step away from CCAN to launch his own State House-focused lobbying shop, DeMarco Advocacy. He has already lined up his current employer, CCAN, as a lobbying client, and hopes to land a few others before the 2025 General Assembly session.

“Three or four clients from nonprofits is really what I’m looking for, especially in year one,” DeMarco said. “I’m really excited to live and breathe Annapolis. I’ll be working on the same issues, representing some of the same people, but in a new role.”

DeMarco has been with CCAN since 2020 and has also done climate advocacy with a national group, the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He has also worked for the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Initiative and with the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

DeMarco’s dad is the legendary Vincent DeMarco, the longtime health care and gun safety advocate in Maryland. CCAN is sifting through applications to replace DeMarco as its Maryland director.

More energy personnel news

The Maryland Energy Administration has a new chief of staff.

The state agency that promotes clean energy development has hired a veteran government administrator and environmental advocate Jennifer Aiosa to replace Christopher Rice in the top staff job.

“Jenn Aiosa will bring to the Maryland Energy Administration a rare blend of experience and understanding on issues relevant to the mission of this agency,” said Maryland Energy Administration Director Paul G. Pinsky. “Her deep knowledge as an administrator and a scientist position her remarkably well to help keep us on path as we charge toward our mission.”

Aiosa most recently served as director of government affairs for Baltimore County, where she previously was the chief sustainability officer. She also was the executive director of the nonprofit organization Bluewater Baltimore; director of conservation programs for the Chesapeake Conservancy; and senior scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Aiosa has served at the Maryland Department of Planning as director of policy and planning research and worked for the Department of Natural Resources.

“The Maryland Energy Administration provides exceptional policy expertise and critical financial tools necessary for meaningful statewide impact in the fight against climate pollution. I am truly excited to be joining this dynamic and growing team working toward such important goals,” Aiosa said.

Rice, who has been with MEA in various capacities for 19 years, including the past five as chief of staff, is moving to Sustainable Energy Advantage, a renewable-energy market, policy, strategic and financial analysis consulting firm.

A message only a mudder could love

For the second year in a row, a group of Maryland state legislators and friends competed in the annual Tough Mudder competition last weekend in Philadelphia, which may best be described as a series of difficult athletic challenges and obstacle courses, including a 5K race, through mud.

Political notes: New adventure for DeMarco, new chief at energy agency and a message in the mud
A message T-shirt worn by members of the Maryland General Assembly’s team that competed this past weekend at the Tough Mudder competition outside Philadelphia — before the shirts encountered any mud. Photo courtesy of Del. Lorig Charkoudian.

This year’s team was led by Del. Lorig Charkoudian (D-Montgomery) and included Dels. Elizabeth Embry (D-Baltimore City) and Caylin Young (D-Baltimore City), in addition to an assortment of other state officials and advocates.

This year, the Maryland team wore message T-shirts, in case any Pennsylvania legislators or other Keystone State policymakers were on hand. The shirt described the combatants as “Relentless, Gritty, Graceful, Intense.” Underneath that, the message read, “Join us in RGGI!”

That was, it turned out, a subtle policy plea.

RGGI, for the uninitiated, stands for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program that enables participating mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states to auction off carbon credits every three months to power plants powered by fossil fuels, to compensate for the plants’ pollution. Maryland uses the auction proceeds to fund clean energy initiatives, which are funneled through the Maryland Energy Administration.

But Pennsylvania officials have wavered about whether to join the regional alliance, and a court there threw out an RGGI rule late last year — which is why Maryland officials decided to use the Tough Mudder to apply a little pressure.

“We cheered about RGGI as often as we could,” Charkoudian reported in a text Monday. She said it was tongue-in-cheek “but leaving all the good RGGI energy in PA, if you will.”

Asked how people responded to the T-shirts, Charkoudian conceded that she’s not sure anyone other than the Maryland mudders understood it.