A much-expected announcement by Al Redmer to enter the race for Baltimore County executive appears to be just a month away.
Redmer, a three-term Republican state delegate and current Maryland Insurance Administration commissioner, has scheduled a $40-per-person bull roast for Sept. 23 in Rosedale. An invite posted online over the weekend notes a “special announcement” and photo opportunities with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan at a separate oyster reception for $150 per person.
Similar announcements were mailed over the weekend. The announcement posted over the weekend notes the governor is inviting attendees “for a special announcement from Al Redmer.”
Earlier this summer, Redmer hosted a fundraiser for Hogan’s re-election effort.
Redmer declined to comment on the invitations or the pending announcement. Sources familiar with discussions about a possible Redmer campaign said the commissioner would not have to resign in order to run.
Hogan’s presence at Redmer’s fundraiser suggests the governor has taken the unusual step in a contested primary to make it clear who he is supporting. Del. Pat McDonough, who considers himself a populist similar to President Donald Trump, announced earlier this year that he also intends to run for the office. McDonough is a staunch conservative voice who has opposed tax increases and advocated for tougher penalties on illegal immigrants.
Redmer, who lives in Middle River but represented Perry Hall, Parkville and Overlea during his time in the House of Delegates, is considered to be a moderate Republican.
Redmer’s entry into the race could also give Hogan a Republican running at the top of the ticket that is more moderate and representative of the type of path Hogan has tried to cut in a majority-Democrat state in a year when Democrats will certainly attempt to tie the governor – and all Republicans – to Trump.
Hogan defeated Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in Baltimore County by 53,000 votes, or about 19 percentage points, in 2014.
The governor has made it clear he is focused not only on his re-election but on strengthening the party, especially in the General Assembly.
Earlier this year, Hogan introduced first-term Baltimore County Republican Del. Christian Miele, who is seeking to unseat incumbent Democratic state Sen. Kathy Klausmeier, as part of the governor’s so-called “Drive for Five,” which is aimed at adding five Republicans to the Senate. If successful, Hogan would make it nearly impossible for Democrats to override vetoes in the Senate without the help of Republicans.
Baltimore County has played a key role in each gubernatorial election since 2002, first helping elect Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. when he won the county by 64,000 votes and the state by 66,000.
Four years later, Ehrlich won the county by just 8,400 votes and lost the election statewide.
That year, Republicans ran for county executive Clarence Bell Jr., a retired Maryland State Police lieutenant, against incumbent Democrat Jim Smith.
Bell had originally filed to run for sheriff but was talked into filing for county executive just hours before the filing deadline. Bell, who raised less than $6,000 after entering the race, was outgunned by Smith and his $2 million war chest.
Republicans then watched as Smith put his money and campaign, run by Ann Beegle, behind helping Martin O’Malley pick up votes in Baltimore County — an effort that also led Democrats picking up seats in the legislature in that county.