ANNAPOLIS — A Maryland lawmaker hopes to be elected the nation’s first openly gay governor.
Del. Heather Mizeur plans to make her campaign announcement Wednesday for the Maryland 2014 governor’s race.
Mizeur, a Democrat who has been exploring a run for months, also would become Maryland’s first female governor if elected, although women have run in the past.
“It’s a sign of how far we’ve come as a state that an openly gay person can be a serious candidate for governor,” Mizeur said. “But the fact that we’re still talking about it is a sign that we still have a ways to go.”
Maryland legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year, after voters approved legislation in November allowing it.
An openly gay candidate has never been elected governor in any state.
Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey resigned in 2004 after announcing he was gay and had had an affair with a male staffer.
Mizeur, who has been a member of Maryland’s House of Delegates since 2007, has focused on health issues while in office. She also has been an outspoken advocate for caution in allowing drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale in western Maryland. Mizeur has called for a thorough study of health, environmental and economic impacts before allowing hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique commonly known as fracking.
Her announcement is to come the same day that candidates from around the state head to the small Eastern Shore town of Crisfield for a crab feast that has been a popular meet and greet for Maryland politicians over the years.
Mizeur said she planned to roll out over the course of the campaign ideas for boosting job creation and improving schools. She also announced a series of public service events across the state.
Some have questioned how well the 40-year-old delegate from Takoma Park, in Montgomery County near the nation’s capital, will be able to compete against statewide officeholders who have been planning a gubernatorial race for years. But Mizeur placed second in an April straw poll in western Maryland, and she said she is confident her campaign is building enthusiasm.
“We’re building a grassroots campaign that will absolutely have the resources to compete for every vote,” Mizeur said Tuesday in an interview.
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown also is seeking the Democratic nomination. Democratic Attorney General Doug Gansler, who has held two forums about future policy plans, is expected to announce his bid in September. Democratic Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Baltimore County is considering running.
Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is serving his second term, the maximum allowed under state law.