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For moderate Glassman, the comptroller’s race just got a lot harder

Bryan P. Sears//July 22, 2022

For moderate Glassman, the comptroller’s race just got a lot harder

By Bryan P. Sears

//July 22, 2022

“It was a tough race when we got into it,” says Republican Barry Glassman, his party’s nominee for comptroller. “I think now it will be particularly tough for me in the general (election).” (The Daily Record/Bryan P. Sears)

Republican Barry Glassman may find himself out on a bit of an island in his race for comptroller.

For weeks, Republicans across Maryland fretted over what became a reality Tuesday, a Dan Cox victory in their party’s gubernatorial primary. On top of that, Republicans nominated Michael Peroutka, a one-term Anne Arundel County councilman with past ties to a group that advocates for southern states secession as their nominee for state attorney general.

Glassman’s expected attempts to tack away from his party’s top of the ticket may put him at odds with some Republican voters. And Cox’s hard-right views and full-throated backing of former President Donald Trump might make it unappealing for Democrats and independents to cross over to vote for the moderate Glassman.

“The key to keep in mind here is it’s not just that Cox is the gubernatorial nominee. It’s also that Peroutka is the nominee for AG,” said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “So, you put the two of them at the top of the ticket, poor Barry Glassman is completely drowned out in this.”

Eberly said the alternative — nominating Kelly Schulz for governor and Jim Shalleck for attorney general — would not have been a guarantee of victory. It would have been a better fit, however, for Glassman and other Republicans around the state.

“They would have had credible candidates that could turn out the vote,” said Eberly. “What they’ve got now are candidates for AG and for governor that are the equivalent of an in-kind contribution to the Democrats’ get out the vote effort.”

The nomination of Cox and Peroutka immediately opened Glassman up for attack by Democrats eager to define him before the final ballots are counted.

Glassman, the term-limited Harford County executive, faces a tough race against Del. Brooke Lierman, the Baltimore Democrat who is her party’s nominee for comptroller. Lierman has the backing of the Democratic establishment, including leaders of the House and Senate.

“I’m not what they’re going to try to paint me as,” said Glassman. “I’m clearly more of a Hogan Republican and have never been aligned with that portion of that party. I’ve always kind of been a moderate, common sense Republican. That’s my brand.”

Instead, it appears as if Glassman intends to run his campaign at a distance from Cox’s.

Democrat Brooke Lierman has lined up a wall of party support in her bid to become the state’s next comptroller. (Submitted Photo)

“We always planned to run as a strong independent candidate, no matter what,” said Glassman, who did not mention Cox nor Peroutka by name during a 20-minute interview.

He vowed to not endorse or campaign “for anyone.”

But Glassman acknowledged a different electoral outcome would have buoyed his own efforts and those of other Republicans.

“It was a tough race when we got into it,” said Glassman. “I think now it will be particularly tough for me in the general (election).”

“One of the things I learned from Mike Miller (the former state Senate president) is, as a student of history and the political numbers, it’s a kind of a basic premise that when the top of the ticket is not strong or is going to lose by a certain number of points, it has an effect down ballot.”

A day after the polls closed, the Maryland Democratic Party went on the attack. The party released a lengthy statement excoriating Republicans and describing Glassman as one of “three MAGA peas in a pod.”

The email references Cox’s anti-abortion stances and adherence to the belief that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. They also highlight Peroutka’s past leadership role in the League of the South, a neo-secessionist group described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. And it noted Peroutka’s opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

“And whether Barry Glassman wants to admit it or not, he’s a standard-bearer for a party that has elected nothing but ignorance at the top of the ticket, and is now a card-carrying member of the Cox Extreme Team,” according to the Democratic Party statement.

Glassman called the attack “nonsense” and “malarkey.”

“I guess it’s to be expected,” he said. “Both parties do it.”

Glassman supporters said the attempt to paint Glassman as a Trump-Cox flavor Republican are swings at phantoms.

They point to the two-term county executive’s reputation as a fiscal conservative who has managed his home county well for eight years who is not prone to bombastic stances or statements.

In 2018, when Democratic voters came out in droves to send Trump a message they turned out almost every incumbent Republican county executive in Maryland even as they reelected Hogan.

Glassman was the lone exception.

The self-described Hogan Republican acknowledged he has little in common with Cox, though again he didn’t mention him by name.

When asked if being a self-described “Larry Hogan Republican” meant he rejected the Trump-Cox brand of Republicanism, Glassman said: “Yes. The short answer is yes.”

“I’m on the record. The election was valid. It was not stolen. Mike Pence is not a traitor,” said Glassman.

Being a Larry Hogan brand Republican may also be a challenge within Glassman’s own party. Cox and his supporters call Hogan and Schulz RINOs, a derisive acronym for Republican in name only.

“That wing of the party called me a RINO for 20 years when I was in the legislature,” said Glassman. “Before the term even became popular, they attempted to paint me that way just because I worked on ag preservation and I like to get things done. I didn’t make my decisions in as county executive or in the legislature based on party. I’ve just never operated that way.”



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