Maryland Democrat Sheila Hixson dies

Top Maryland Democrat Sheila Hixson has died at the age of 89.

Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin (D) led those paying tribute to Hixson, who served in the state House for decades.

Maryland Dem dies

A statement from Raskin and Democratic state legislators called her a “trailblazer in Maryland politics and government.”

They credited Hixson, the first woman to chair the state’s House Ways and Means committee, with having “led the way for a generation of women running in Maryland elections at every level, always working pragmatically for progressive change.”

Hixson was appointed to fill a vacant seat in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1976, where she remained until 2018. She and Raskin represented the same area when Raskin was in the state senate for about 10 years.

After her retirement in 2017, Raskin said that Hixson, an early backer of gay rights, was a liberal who was practical about bringing her ideals into reality.

“She’s not one of those liberals who’s in politics to fight a valiant, losing battle and then sing Joan Baez songs when it’s all over,” he said. “When she believes in a cause, she wants to go out and win it — and do what is necessary to win.”

“Trailblazing” liberal

The late House Speaker Mike Busch (D) similarly described Hixson at the time as being behind “all of the progressive issues in the state of Maryland.”

Born in Michigan, Hixson got her start in politics as a Hill staffer in the 1960s for the late U.S. Michigan Rep. William Ford.

She divorced her husband, who was boss of the D.C. office of the United Federation of Teachers, going on to raise four kids as a single mom while working her way up the political ladder.

Hixson suffered a pair of personal tragedies with the deaths of her two sons, one from AIDS and another, a Marine who developed PTSD from his time in Iraq, to suicide. She is survived by two daughters.

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich mourned her death, calling the loss of the “historic, trailblazing figure” a “sad day.”