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Eye on Annapolis

The Daily Record's Maryland state government blog

Rutherford out, Schulz in as Md.’s 2022 gubernatorial race heats up

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said Wednesday he would not be a candidate to succeed Gov. Larry Hogan. Hours later, Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz said she would. (The Daily Record/File Photos)

Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said Wednesday he would not be a candidate to succeed Gov. Larry Hogan. Hours later, Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz said she would. (The Daily Record/File Photos)

Spring is a time of new beginnings, and the end of the 2021 General Assembly session means it’s time to think ahead to the 2022 election season. Maryland’s primary election is roughly 14 months away and jockeying for position has already begun.

Two potential Republican gubernatorial candidates announced on the same day, within hours, their intentions, with one deciding to run and another bowing out.

Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz went from potential to actual candidate Wednesday afternoon after launching her website for governor that includes a nearly 90-second video that touches on the familiar themes of Gov. Larry Hogan’s two terms in office, including strengthening the economy, small businesses and working families.

“The perseverance I have seen from Marylanders has been nothing but awe-inspiring,” said Schulz in an opening statement on YouTube that refers to the ongoing pandemic. “It’s the resilience, the strength and the will to overcome that inspired me to run for governor. We’ve come a long way over the course the past few years, but there is still so much work we have left to do.”

Schulz, a Frederick Republican, served one term in the House of Delegates before being tapped by Hogan to serve first as secretary of the Department of Labor and now as the head of the Department of Commerce.

Her announcement comes hours after Lt. Gov Boyd Rutherford announced on social media that he would not run to succeed Hogan.

“After months of careful reflection and consideration, I have decided not to run to become the next governor of Maryland in 2022,” Rutherford said in a post on Facebook Wednesday morning. “This was a decision that I made with my family’s best interest in mind.”

Rutherford, a Howard County resident, has served alongside Hogan since 2014. The lieutenant governor has led efforts on procurement reform and a statewide opioid task force and at times has filled in for Hogan during the governor’s cancer treatments and frequently during the pandemic.

He also was featured in an official video series called “Mundane but meaningful,” in which the lieutenant governor showed off his sense of humor and wonky side while explaining hot topic such as regulatory reform, the Board of Public Works and the U.S. Census in just two to three minutes.

“The lieutenant governor is an exceptionally accomplished public servant who has upheld his end of the political bargain and then some,” said Len Foxwell, a Democratic political consultant. “I’m not surprised he chose to take a pass on a gubernatorial campaign in his own right. Campaigns for governor are physically grueling, mentally exhausting and downright miserable at times. A candidate really has to have a burning desire to subject themselves and their families to that process.”

Over the last year Rutherford has been more visible with Hogan during the pandemic and in trips around the state visiting Maryland’s state parks.

Foxwell, who spoke only on Republican races as he may represent an as-yet undeclared Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said on “at least on paper” Schulz is a formidable adversary.

“As a matter of both political style and philosophy, she’s going to be able to position herself as the natural heir of the Hogan brand,” said Foxwell. “Now, whether that is a hinderance or a help to the secretary after eight years of Governor Hogan, that will be determined over the course of a campaign.”

At least one other Republican, former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, has also expressed interest in a possible run.

Foxwell noted that Steele has keen political instincts but has been removed from state politics as he focused on more national issues. It is unclear how much of a state infrastructure Steele has maintained.

Also on the list is Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, who has been rumored to be interested in races, including challenging Republican Rep. Andy Harris as well as a run for governor or comptroller. Glassman, who is said to be leaning toward a statewide campaign in 2022, is scheduled to make an announcement Thursday outside the Level Volunteer Fire Company in Havre de Grace, where he has made other major political announcements in the past.

There will also be no shortage of Democrats interested in running for governor.

Comptroller Peter Franchot has already announced he will run for the top state executive office job. Last week he released an early campaign platform.

Also announcing last week was former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, who unsuccessfully ran for the position in 2018. Baker will once again have to prove he can raise money and mount an enthusiastic statewide effort.

Former Attorney General Doug Gansler, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014, is said to be looking at a return to statewide campaigning. Since returning to private practice, Gansler has maintained his network of supporters and donors and shown an ability to raise needed campaign cash.

Also rumored to be considering a run for the Democratic nomination for governor is Ben Jealous, the 2018 Democratic nominee who lost to Hogan. Jealous will be part of a May 1 announcement for the New Era Political Action Committee, which will focus on supporting progressive candidates in the state and nationally.

Tom Perez, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, is similarly looking at a potential campaign.

Another potential Democratic candidate whose name is in circulation is Wes Moore, an author and entrepreneur and the CEO of the anti-poverty nonprofit Robin Hood Foundation.

Other Democrats appear to be either leaning against running or slow-walking a decision as the window of opportunity begins to close.

Current Rep. David Trone and former Rep. John Delaney could have both mounted formidable self-financed campaigns but are now said to be leaning against running.

Baker’s decision to run could foreclose a campaign by first-term Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks. The Washington Post reports that Alsobrooks is expected to make an announcement soon, but the executive has previously stated her intent to seek a second term leading the second-most populous jurisdiction in Maryland.

Similar questions surround first-term Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., who held a recent fundraiser but did not signal an intention to run for higher office. While he is deciding, some aides involved in his successful 2018 executive campaign have moved on.

Henry Callegary, a former coordinator for Olszewski’s campaign, is now helping coordinate Franchot’s campaign in that county. Perez has secured the services of Tucker Cavanagh, a political consultant who also worked for Olszewski’s campaign.

With Franchot’s decision to run for governor, Del. Brooke Lierman, D-Baltimore and an attorney, has already announced her intention to run for comptroller.

Also declared is Tim Adams, a Democrat and the first Black mayor of Bowie in the city’s 138-year history. Adams, elected in 2019, is founder, president and chief executive officer of Prince George’s County-based Systems Application & Technologies, Inc.

Another potential Democratic candidate for the state’s top tax collector slot is Sen. Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery and the vice chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Feldman is a tax attorney and certified public accountant as well as having served as an attorney in the tax division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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