Maryland’s lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle offered praise for state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz following her Wednesday morning announced that she is running for governor in 2022.
Schulz announced her candidacy in a video that was posted to her campaign website.
“We’ve come a long way over the past few years, but there is still work to be done,” she said. I want us together to build on our past successes and fulfill the great promise and potential for the next generation.”
MarylandReporter.com reached out to Schultz prior to her announcement to talk about what was then a potential candidacy and was told to call back in the afternoon. MarylandReporter.com called Schulz in the afternoon and left a message and of this writing the secretary has yet to call back.
The announcement came just hours after Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford, who likely would have been the GOP frontrunner in the race, announced that he would not seek to succeed his boss, popular two-term incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan, in the State House. Hogan is the first Republican to be re-elected governor of Maryland since Theodore McKeldin in the 1950s and has not ruled out running for president in 2024.
Schulz, 52, is a Frederick County resident. She has served in her current position since Jan. 2019. Schulz served as Secretary of the Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation from March 2015 to Jan. 2019. Prior to joining the Hogan administration Schulz served in the House of Delegates for four years. Schulz is a Michigan native and a graduate of Hood College.
“I’m actually ecstatic that Kelly Schulz has decided to run…I think she’s an impressive individual and I think that I’m excited for her to run,” Del. Brian Chisholm (R-Anne Arundel) told MarylandReporter.com. “Obviously this is Maryland and it is going to be a very tough battle for her.”
Chisholm added: “One of the things that I’ve always like about Kelly is that whenever I have had a question or needed something she is one of the people that would respond fairly quickly, if not right away.”
Sen. Cory McCray (D-Baltimore City) also praised Schulz, saying she has good bipartisan relationships.
“I’ve been able to work with Secretary Schulz in the capacity of Commerce and the Department of Labor. And she’s always been a pleasure to work with. I’ve been able to work with her to make sure the trades are represented, around apprentice issues, and around small business issues.”
McCray went on to say he looks forward to “a dynamic conversation about the future of our communities during the upcoming gubernatorial primary and general election season.”
But not everybody praised Schulz.
Maryland Democratic Party spokesperson Zachary Holman slammed the secretary’s candidacy in a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
“Maryland Democrats have consistently delivered results for our state, Kelly Schulz would be another obstructionist Republican standing in the way of progress for Marylanders. Our candidates will highlight the stark differences between the parties on the issues that matter, like health care, a strong economy, and the environment,” Holman said. “Unfortunately for Schulz, who celebrated former President Trump’s win at an inaugural gala, any Republican running for governor won’t be able to get away from Trump’s deeply unpopular and failed record. Given his overwhelming popularity with the Maryland GOP base, the primary will be defined by loyalty to the former president.”
If elected, Schulz would be Maryland’s first woman governor.
But she may not be the only Republican candidate in the race for very long.
Former Republican National Committee Chairman (RNC) and former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele reiterated Wednesday that he is considering running for governor.
“I’m taking a look at it. I’m likely to continue to take a look at it. And sort of do my own analysis, if you will, of that opportunity. And make a decision later on. I’m not on any particular timetable. And I’m not pressed to conform to anyone else’s timetable. Because it’s a big decision.”
Steele, 62, an attorney, political commentator and podcast host, made national headlines last year when he endorsed then-candidate-and-now-President Joe Biden over fellow Republican and then-President Donald Trump. Prior to that decision Steele had been a frequent critic of Trump’s rhetoric which often earned him scorn from many conservative commentators and elected officials.
Steele said he was not terribly surprised by Rutherford’s decision not to enter the race.
“In one sense not really. Knowing Boyd and knowing his wife and family. And I know how much all of that means to him…. It doesn’t surprise me. It’s what everyone in those jobs or who aspires to those jobs-you go through that consideration process. And because it’s weighty and it’s important. And I think in the main people shouldn’t necessary be surprised. They just should be appreciative of what it takes to make that decision to go or not to go.”
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman is another Republican who has said he is considering running for governor. Glassman, who has served in his current position since 2015, is scheduled to make an announcement about his political future on Thursday morning in Havre De Grace, according to various media reports.
The GOP primary is scheduled to take place on June 28, 2022.
On Democratic side there are three declared candidates: Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and non-profit executive Jon Baron. Baker ran for governor in 2018 but was defeated in the primary election.
Among the potential Democratic contenders are Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. Olszewski has said he is considering a bid for governor.
A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) refused to rule out the possibility that Brown, who lost to Hogan in 2014, may be considering another run for governor. Brown has been a sharp critic of Hogan, particularly how the governor has handled the pandemic and unemployment claims.
“Nothing forthcoming. Will let you know when we have anything to announce,” Brown’s spokesman said about the congressman’s political future.
Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by a 2-to-1 margin in Maryland.