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Laurel state Sen. Jim Rosapepe considering running for comptroller in 2014

Most politicians are shy about stating their plans for an election that is almost three years away, but not Laurel's District 21 state Sen. Jim Rosapepe, who announced last week he is considering running for comptroller in 2014.

"I'm considering running for comptroller if Peter Franchot runs for governor, which he is expected to do," Rosapepe said. "I think it's a job where I can fight for working families, as I have in the Senate."

If Franchot, the current state comptroller, chooses not to run for governor and decides to run for re-election, Rosapepe said he will run for re-election to his Senate seat.

A College Park resident, Rosapepe was elected to the Senate in 2006. Before that he served a five-year term on the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland; spent four years as U.S. Ambassador to Romania in the Clinton administration; and held a seat in the House of Delegates for 11 years.

Asked why he's decided to make his plans public years before the election, Rosapepe said: "I think my constituents have a right to know what I'm thinking about."

He added: "But at another level, running for statewide office is a very large undertaking. I need to be talking to people around the state as well as in my own district as to whether they're supportive of it."

One of the ways Rosapepe will likely be looking for support is through donations since it will require more funds to run a statewide campaign. In 2011, Rosapepe raised slightly more than $75,000, according to his annual campaign finance report. He had slightly more than $71,000 cash on hand as of Jan. 11.

More than tax collecting

One of only four statewide elected offices in Maryland, the comptroller serves as the state's chief financial officer. Most people know the comptroller as the state's tax collector, but the comptroller is also responsible for other aspects of the state's finances, including paying the state's bills, keeping financial records and paying state employees.

The comptroller also sits on several state boards and commissions, including the Board of Public Works, which approves expenditures for state capital projects, contracts and other high-cost transactions.

"Having someone from our area on the Board of Public Works could be an advantage to our area," Rosapepe said.

Rosapepe sent out a public announcement Tuesday, Jan. 17 saying he was considering running for comptroller. In the announcement, he included a list of roughly 80 "initial supporters" who will be advising him through the process.

Among the supporters were District 21 Dels. Ben Barnes, Barbara Frush and Joseline Peña-Melnyk; former governors Parris Glendening and Harry Hughes; Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker; Laurel Mayor Craig Moe; Prince George's County Council member Mary Lehman; and Anne Arundel County Council member Jamie Benoit.

"For as long I've known him, he's always wanted to be comptroller … it's always been his ultimate goal," Frush said.

Frush said she will strongly support Rosapepe if he ends up running for the position.

"He's an extremely hard worker; he fights for the people; he will protect our communities," she said.

Peña-Melnyk said Rosapepe knows the state quite well and has a diverse background that would serve him well as comptroller.

"He has the financial background as a former ambassador and also (from) the work he does in the financial industry," she said.

Barnes said Rosapepe is extremely qualified for the job given his understanding of budgets and fiscal policy.

"There's no brighter fiscal mind in the General Assembly than Jim Rosapepe," he said.

If Rosapepe does run for comptroller in 2014, that leaves the District 21 Senate seat open.

Asked if he would consider running for Senate, Barnes said: "I think we're premature to talk about that, (but) I certainly wouldn't rule it out."

Peña-Melnyk gave a similar answer.

"I think it's premature to decide and have that talk," she said. "I would certainly consider it if he were to run for comptroller.

Frush, however, said she would not run for Senate.

"I am right now in a wonderful leadership position in the House," she said. "I chair the Environment Subcommittee, one of the most important subcommittees in the House."

Frush explained that if she moved over to the Senate, she would start "at the bottom" and it would take her a long time to get to an equivalent leadership level.

"I think I can do more for my constituents and more for the state of Maryland exactly where I am," she said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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