With the Maryland General Assembly session ending this week, attention has immediately turned to who will become Maryland’s next governor — even though the election is 19 months away.
Republican Larry Hogan is prevented from running for re-election, and has his eye on national office, positioning himself as an alternative to the Trump wing of his party.
The race for the Republican nomination to succeed him came into focus this week, with one oft-mentioned candidate bowing out of the race, and others saying they are in.
Now comes a period of heaving fundraising and travelling to build name recognition, prior to the primaries in June 2022.
Today Baltimore Fishbowl reviews the Republican names mentioned as contenders; Democratic possibilities will be explored later.
The candidates most frequently talked about now are considered by political observers to be “establishment” Republicans – that is, not Donald Trump acolytes. The question many have asked is whether there’s a candidate waiting in the wings who is more “Trump-like” than Maryland’s more traditionally centrist Republicans. Voters on both the eastern and western sides of the state may be interested in a candidate who looks and talks more like the 45th President than the sitting governor.
Harford County Executive
Status: Running For Comptroller
Glassman, 59, is term-limited so he can’t run for County Executive again in Harford. The former General Assembly member on Thursday announced his candidacy for Maryland comptroller, becoming the first Republican to enter the race. The position is currently held by Peter Franchot, a Democrat, who is running for governor. Glassman was also considering runs for governor and for Maryland’s First Congressional District against incumbent Andy Harris, a Republican. Before Glassman’s announcement on Thursday, Goucher College political science professor Mileah Kromer said the Harford County executive was certainly considering his options.
“He’s a well-liked and personable county executive who has stayed away from national politics,” Kromer said. “Again, this is another name recognition thing. Can he raise enough money to raise his statewide name recognition? He takes a managerial approach to politics, but will that be enough to bridge the divisive cultural issues that Republican voters will still care about in a primary?”
Lieutenant Governor of Maryland
Status: Not Running
Maryland’s Republicans would see Lt. Gov. Rutherford as a safe choice to pursue a promotion, but this week he announced he will not run to succeed Hogan.
Rutherford has been considered wonky and capable, and has taken the same anti-Trump stance as his boss Hogan. But this week’s announcement showed once again that Rutherford is more interested in managing than politicking.
“Who could manage the state well? Boyd Rutherford could,” Kromer said. “If Republicans are looking for someone who can win and also could be a confident manager of the state’s economy, Rutherford could make that argument.”
But unless things change, they’ll have to look elsewhere.
State Secretary of Commerce
Schulz, a former state delegate from Harford County, became the first officially declared GOP candidate this week.
Kromer says Schulz, 52, is probably more conservative than Larry Hogan, but she’s also really careful about not commenting much about Trump – who will remain a looming figure for Republicans for some time. “She’s run two high-profile agencies” in the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; and Department of Commerce, “so if the state GOP is looking for a business-minded person who can speak to fiscal issues, she’s it,” Kromer said.
Political Commentator and Former Lt. Gov.
Steele, a former Maryland lieutenant governor and chair of the Republican National Committee, has said he’ll take a very strong look at running for governor, but that’s as far as it’s gone. His most recent run for public office was in 2006, when he went after the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Paul Sarbanes, but lost in the general election to Ben Cardin.
Kromer says Steele would have high name recognition for Republicans and is well-known for his many appearances as an MSNBC pundit. But it’s not clear how Steele fits into the modern GOP when he endorsed Joe Biden for President and has worked for the anti-Trump Lincoln Project.
Steele, 62, also polls well among Democrats and independents.