ANNAPOLIS — Del. Maggie McIntosh is thinking a lot about her political future these days.
McIntosh, D-Baltimore City and the chair of the Appropriations Committee, said Thursday that she is taking a hard look over the next few months at potential campaigns for governor, comptroller or returning to the House to continue in her leadership position.
“I am simply telling you that I am putting together a group and look at whether I would be interested in running a statewide campaign or simply or continuing in my role in House leadership.”
McIntosh, 68, said she began seriously considering other options outside a simple run for re-election following Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign defeat.
“We don’t have a woman in Congress and we’ve never had a woman governor or presiding officer,”said McIntosh, a veteran of the House for 24 years. “After last week, a lot of people started looking at ways we could promote women in leadership in our party. The election last week made me and others ask ‘What more can I be doing? What more can I do to promote the values and ideals that our state holds.'”
Her consideration of a run for comptroller further highlights the dissatisfaction some in the Democratic party have with incumbent Peter Franchot, who is frequently seen as being too close to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan — which some call a “bromance.”
“Some people will say it’s a good thing he works with the governor,” McIntosh said. “In my role as appropriations chair, I try to work with the governor.”
Franchot has called his relationship with Hogan “a strategic partnership” and frequently touts his ability to work with the Republican leader. He cites polls showing public support for such a relationship, and he has proposed that he and the governor take their bipartisan relationship to joint appearances around the state.
“(Franchot) ran against William Donald Schaefer because he thought Schaefer had become to close to Ehrlich,” McIntosh said, referring to the relationship between the late comptroller and Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich. “He has become that which he stood up to run against.”
McIntosh said she and others have been concerned Franchot has sided too often with Hogan against Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp, a Democratic former delegate who is appointed by the legislature. McIntosh is not the only legislator said to be considering a run against Franchot.
Others reported to be interested include Sen. James C. Rosepepe and Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, both Democrats representing Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties.
McIntosh has started hinting at a potential larger run, even posting a mockup of a potential campaign bumper sticker on Facebook. She said she has not made up her mind about what she will ultimately do and said she could easily run for the seat she holds.
McIntosh, a loyal supporter of House Speaker Michael Busch, has come up especially in recent months as rumors circulate about Busch’s future and whether he intends to stay on.
Busch, however, continues to raise money. McIntosh’s exploratory group could be another signal that the Speaker of the House is setting up for a 2018 re-election bid.
But a statewide campaign comes with its own challenges, even for McIntosh, who headed the statewide election efforts for the now-retired Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
First would be raising her statewide name recognition and visibility from a local delegate with a power position in Annapolis.
Second would be fundraising. Franchot, earlier this year, boasted he expected to close in on the $2 million mark for fundraising. That actual number is likely to be between $1.1 million and $1.5 million — a still formidable amount with two years to go before the election.
Hogan, who ran and won using public financing, is likewise not expected to have any problems raising money for his re-election bid.
McIntosh is prohibited by state ethics laws from raising money during the 90-day legislative sessions, effectively eating up one-third of the remaining time left before an early 2018 primary. Those sessions would also make it difficult to campaign.
McIntosh said her advisory group will meet over the winter and she could make a final decision on her future by June.