LEVEL — Barry Glassman wants to do something no Republican has done in more than 120 years — be elected the state’s top tax collector.
Glassman stood in front of a podium at the Level Volunteer Fire Company where he once served and has made all of his major political announcements and made official what many had suspected for weeks: He would forgo a likely bruising primary fight for the 1st Congressional District seat. Instead, the two-term Republican Harford County executive said, he would seek to succeed Comptroller Peter Franchot, who is running for the Democratic nomination for governor.
“As we move beyond this pandemic, the next comptroller will certainly to have tested governmental experience and be someone who has actually advocated to protect the state’s taxpayers and small businesses,” said Glassman. “After all, the comptroller is the voice of the taxpayer and is also their watchdog.”
Glassman was first elected county executive in 2014 and was the only incumbent Republican executive to survive Maryland voters’ anti-Donald Trump sentiments in 2018. Prior to becoming executive, he served in the Maryland Senate for six years and in the House of Delegates for nine years. He was also a member of the Harford County Council for eight years.
Glassman said he hoped to bring his vision of county government to the tax collector’s office by bringing modernization and increased efficiency while continuing to be a watchdog on how state dollars are spent. The comptroller is one of three votes on the state’s Board of Public Works, which oversees and approves state contracts.
“I always like to compare it to the last version of your smartphone,” he said holding up his mobile device. “Smaller, faster and with better service.”
The run for comptroller appears to be Glassman’s fallback position, though he said he wouldn’t characterize it as such.
Topping the list of options for Glassman had been a run for Congress in Maryland’s 1st District — which is represented by Rep. Andy Harris, the only Republican in the House of Representatives from Maryland.
“If Congressman Harris would have kept his pledge on term limits I may have ran for the congressional seat,” said Glassman.
Harris, who once promised to serve no more than six terms, has decided to seek a seventh in 2022. The conservative physician from Baltimore County also has a bare-knuckles reputation as a campaigner that Glassman said he would have had to match in order to have a chance at winning.
“Congressional primaries have gotten so divisive and so partisan on the left and the right that you really have to be, you know, very out there and almost angry every day and the more divisive the better,” said Glassman. “And that’s just not me. I learned when I was raising sheep that one thing was for certain when I was trying to catch a ram, you never corner something that’s meaner than you are. I’m not a mean guy. That doesn’t cut it for me.”
Glassman said he likely would not have challenged Franchot had he run for reelection to his current position. A campaign for governor was a brief consideration for the county executive.
“I think we’ve settled on the right race at the right time for me and my family and the folks I represent,” said Glassman, adding that his wife of more than three decades had some other plans.
“Debbie always made me keep on the list that I was going to go back home and be home every weekend, but she’s going to let me have one more run here,” he said.
Glassman becomes the third Republican to announce a decision about the 2022 campaign since the General Assembly ended its 90-day session at midnight Monday. He’s the first to throw his hat in the ring for comptroller.
On Wednesday, Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz launched her bid for governor hours after Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said he would not seek to succeed his boss, two-term Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Glassman, who is currently the only Republican to announce for comptroller, is the third candidate in the race.
Del. Brooke Lierman, D-Baltimore and an attorney, and Tim Adams, the first Black mayor of Bowie and founder, president and chief executive officer of Systems Application & Technologies, Inc., have announced they will seek the Democratic nomination for comptroller.
Should Glassman win, he would do something no Republican has done since Phillips Lee Goldsborough ran and won one term in 1898. Goldsborough, a Dorchester County resident, later went on to become governor and a U.S. senator.
As a Republican in a statewide race, they’re all uphill,” said Glassman. “They are difficult races but I think I’ve shown over 30 years that I have the ability to attract Democrats, independents, Republicans in a broad coalition. People know me as a hard worker and honest and being forthright with folks.”