The first votes in the race to be Maryland’s next governor won’t be cast for more than a year. But candidates already are jockeying for position. As expected, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown made official Monday his choice of Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate in the Democratic primary. And Harford County Executive David Craig announced his entry into the Republican contest.
Brown praised Ulman for increasing education spending for the county, establishing a domestic violence unit, putting more cops on the street, and for maintaining the lowest unemployment rate in the state. “As Howard County Executive, he’s been recognized not only in the state but around the nation as one of the great innovative leaders in Maryland,” Brown said.
Ulman praised the Lt. Governor for helping Maryland become a better state, adding he has had the privilege of knowing and working with Brown for the last decade. “I’ve been inspired by his work ethic, his energy and his unyielding commitment to the families of this state,” said Ulman.
Supporters of the new Brown/Ulman ticket called it a dream ticket. “I think that it is the kind of ticket that brings great strength to the position of Lt. Governor because you’ve got somebody who God forbid if something were to happen to the Governor, I know that Ken can step in there,” said Congressman Elijah Cummings, whose district includes the northern half of Howard County. Cummings introduced the ticket, saying it “offers Maryland the most competent and caring leadership team.”
There had been speculation that Ulman would seek the gubernatorial nomination on his own, which would have made things difficult for Baltimore County Councilwoman Vicki Almond and others. “I have been a friend of the Lt. Governor’s for a long time so I was very close to him; I have a great deal of respect for Ken,” Almond said. “I think it was going to be a tough decision for some people.” Now, she says, he choice is easy.
Brown and Ulman were also scheduled to have campaign events in Cambridge and at their campaign headquarters in Largo.
In the Republican race, Craig, who has been touted as his party’s front runner for months, made his first announcement at his home in Havre de Grace, then traveled to the Dundalk American Legion by charter bus with the slogan “Bluegrass TeePee” inscribed across the back.
Surrounded by his wife, Melinda, their children and grandchildren, Craig portrayed himself as a tenth-generation Marylander, a regular guy who worked his way through state schools to become a teacher, a guy has been left behind by his government.
He took a shot first at Governor Martin O’Malley, the front man for an Irish rock band. “Politicians are more concerned about being rock stars and celebrities than being leaders,” he told a crowd of about 50. “Our leaders are supposed to have a great idea about what the people need, and about advancing those ideas so that we have a really good future.”
He attacked the Democrats’ long standing control of both houses of the General Assembly and the governor’s office as a “political monopoly” that empowers government rather than its people and conceded he’s up against long odds in a state with a two-to-one Democratic registration. But he insisted he won’t back down. “I’m ready to stand for you,” he said. “I ask you to stand with me for the state of Maryland, for yourself and for what we need to do in 2014.”
Rich Foot, a former Dundalk High School science teacher who now is in the weather forecasting business was in the crowd. He said Craig, a former middle school teacher, is inspiring. “You can’t be in education and in government and gain the support of the people without demonstrating that you know how to adhere to accountability,” Foot said. “So that means a lot to me.”
For the Democrats, Attorney General Doug Gansler has long been expected to run for governor, but has made no announcements. Meanwhile Delegate Ron George, an Annapolis Republican, is expected to announce his run for governor on Wednesday.