Local tech entrepreneur and gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross has chosen Julie Verratti, the co-founder of Silver Spring’s Denizens Brewing, to join him as his running mate.
Like Ross, Verratti hasn’t run for office before but worked for the Obama White House, serving as a senior policy advisor for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Beer policy is one of her specialties: She served on Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot’s Reform on Tap Task Force last year, which he formed to help overhaul the state’s craft beer laws, and is a board member for the Brewers Association, which represents thousands of independent brewers and other craft beer businesses around the country.
Verratti is also an LGBT and human rights activist, and has advocated for the Human Rights Campaign and LGBT equality nonprofits in Maryland and Massachusetts.
Verratti told Baltimore Fishbowl she believes the combination of hers and Ross’ entrepreneurial experience gives them a standpoint on small business policy that other campaigns can’t match.
As for the current administration, she said, “I think that Larry Hogan has attempted to put forth policies to improve business, but he’s doing it in a way that is also not recognizing the progressive values that our state supports.”
Ross said beer as a sector “is representative of people who start businesses in Maryland and try to grow them.”
“Baltimore and Maryland are not going to be saved by a big company or two relocating to Maryland,” he added. “Ultimately, Baltimore and Maryland’s salvation has to come from within. The best path forward from my standpoint is to make Maryland the most entrepreneur-friendly state in the country.”
Guinness is nearing completion of a new brewery in Baltimore County, the first in the U.S., and the city put in a bid for Amazon’s HQ2. Montgomery County is still in the running to land the second headquarters of the e-commerce giant, and the state is prepared to offer billions.
The Washington Post broke the news of their partnership just after midnight.
Ross, 46, is a Baltimore-based author and entrepreneur. He was a senior adviser for innovation for the State Department during the Obama administration, and wrote the New York Times best-selling “The Industries of the Future.”
He was the first candidate to join what became a crowded field of Democrats running to try to oust Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in this November’s election. The others are former NAACP president Ben Jealous, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Baltimore defense attorney Jim Shea, Montgomery County state Sen. Richard Madaleno, Michelle Obama’s former policy director Krish Vignarajah and local mainstay candidate Ralph Jaffe.
Shea last week made waves after announcing Councilman Brandon Scott as his running mate. Jealous has picked former Democratic National Committee vice chair Susan Turnbull to run alongside him for lieutenant governor, and, per a release, Madaleno has announced business exec and Maryland gubernatorial administration veteran Luwanda W. Jenkins as his partner on the ticket.
All candidates must pick a running mate to be eligible for the June 26 primary. The deadline to do so is Feb. 27.
This story has been updated.