The Washington Times - July 30, 2008, 12:44PM

Richard J. Dowling, executive director of Maryland Catholic Conference, said Tuesday he plans to step down as the group’s lobbyist by the end of the year.

Mr. Dowling, 67, has been a fixture in Maryland politics since 1984, lobbying against the death penalty, assisted suicide and abortion and for other church priorities, including establishing the state’s earned income tax credit.

“I’m grateful to the Maryland-serving bishops for their support and trust, and to all the good people in the parishes and diocesan offices who’ve contributed in so many ways to our education and advocacy efforts,” Mr. Dowling said in a statement released today.

Mary Ellen Russell, the group’s deputy director for education and family life, will succeed Mr. Dowling.