Maryland’s top state wide voter-getter in the Democratic Party will not be endorsing in the race for governor.
Comptroller Peter Franchot said he prefers to stay neutral in the campaign between Republican Gov. Larry Hogan — whom Franchot called a friend — and Democratic challenger Ben Jealous. And while the state’s tax collector said he would never support a Republican over a Democrat in a general election matchup, his thoughts on what candidates in his party should focus on could give Jealous and his supporters some pause.
“I think I’m probably going to be neutral in (the governor’s race) simply because it’s important for me to be able to get along with whoever is elected,” Franchot told Tom Hall on the Midday Show on WYPR.
The comptroller said it was a matter of putting “my state interests ahead of my party interests right now on this particular race.”
Franchot, once known as “the Takoma Park liberal,” has become to some a self-styled populist maverick reborn as a fiscally conservative tax collector. To others — including Democratic House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. — he’s a moderate-to-severe irritation.
His relationship with Hogan has also become a sore sport for top Democrats even as the comptroller and governor take their bipartisan bromance on the road to chambers of commerce and other groups around the state.
During an April 9 rally calling for the electoral defeat of Miller, Franchot talked to reporters about the need to reform his party.
Following that rally, Franchot said in an interview with The Daily Record that he would not endorse Hogan for governor.
“I’m a Democrat,” Franchot said at the time. “I support Democrats.”
— Bryan P. Sears (@bpsears) July 2, 2018
“I’m a Democrat,” Franchot said on the radio in response to the Twitter reminder of comments made in April. “I’m not a robot. I don’t support Democrats up and down the ticket carte blanche. I’m not going to support Democrats that, I think, are completely unacceptable, I think, as far as public service.”
Franchot has supported a number of Democrats across the state, including Baltimore City Dels. Cory McCray and Mary Washington — who challenged powerful incumbent Sens. Nathaniel McFadden and Joan Carter Conway respectively — as well as Sen. Jim Brochin, who ran for Baltimore County executive.
“I will not support Republicans against Democrats in the general election,” said Franchot.
He told Hall that the focus should be on what he called “kitchen economic issues.” He called on candidates within his party to be fiscal moderates. His words sounded cautionary to Jealous, who has proposed tuition-free college educations and universal health care as part of his campaign.
“So I urge Democrats to turn back to our voters not with big, bold visionary proposals that can never become reality and if they did would bankrupt the state,” said Franchot.