One of the Maryland Senate’s fiscal leaders and a vocal liberal critic of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is planning his own campaign for the top elected spot in the state.
Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., D-Montgomery, said he will run for governor, ending months of speculation that began earlier this year when he told the Baltimore Sun he was considering the campaign.
“It’s no longer a trial balloon,” said Madaleno, who is in his third term in the Senate.
Madaleno, who turns 52 in June, said he plans to run as progressive alternative to Hogan.
“I just think there is a great opportunity for someone fitting my profile and for a Democrat to win in November,” Madaleno said in an interview.
Madaleno, who was the first openly gay candidate elected to the Maryland Senate, has a solid progressive pedigree.
He has been out front on issues including raising the gas tax for transportation projects — an issue Hogan ran against in 2014 — as well as a vocal supporter of the DREAM Act and of repealing the death penalty.
He was a leading voice in the Senate on a marriage equality law.
“It’s fair to say I was the front man,” Madaleno said. “I was pushing for it when no one was pushing for it.”
Over the last three years, Madaleno has raised his profile, building himself a reputation as a vocal, sharp-tongued critic of the governor on issues related to school funding, transportation and what Madaleno views as Hogan’s hands-off and indifferent approach to the legislature when it is Annapolis for its 90-day sessions.
“Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a governor who understood and respected the legislative process — someone who wants to foster mutual success instead of the constant bickering and back-biting between the branches?” said Madaleno.
Madaleno was first elected to the Senate in 2007 after serving one term in the House of Delegates. He was named vice chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation committee two years ago.
Prior to his election, Madaleno worked from 1989 to 1995 as a budget analyst for the Department of Legislative Services for six years. Following that, he worked for almost eight years as a legislative analyst for Montgomery County government.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and Soviet studies and a master’s in public administration from Syracuse University.
Madaleno said he expects to make his candidacy official sometime before the end of the summer.
But before Madaleno can run against Hogan he will have to contend against an ever-growing number of real and presumed Democratic rivals in the 2018 campaign.
So far, only Alec Ross, a technology policy expert and senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University, has officially announced his candidacy.
Other Democrats who have expressed an interest in running for the Democratic nomination include: Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III; Rep. John Delaney; former Maryland Attorney General and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler; Benjamin Jealous, the former head of the NAACP; Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz; and James Shea, a Baltimore attorney.
Madaleno’s candidacy has its own set of challenges.
He will need to show that he can raise enough money to help him get his message out to all corners of the state and show he can build a statewide organization.
On the money front, Madaleno reported having nearly $73,000 in cash on hand as of the most recent campaign finance report filed in January with the Maryland State Board of Elections. That’s significantly behind Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who is also expected to enter the Democratic primary for governor. Kamenetz reported having more than $1.6 million in January.
Additionally, Madaleno will likely have to address questions about his lack of executive leadership.
Madaleno described his style as a progressive Marvin Mandel.
“The walking around and saying, ‘I carried a big stick before and I’ll have an even bigger stick isn’t the path to get things done,” Madaleno said.