It shouldn't surprise anyone that Ken Ulman has his political sights set higher than being Howard County's executive. Since about the midway point of his current term, even the most indifferent of political observers could see Ulman doing his best to improve his name recognition beyond Howard's borders.
Whether he was serving as the president of the Maryland Association of Counties, standing with Montgomery and Prince George's county leaders at a news conference to promote expanded gambling or solidifying his Baltimore base with his unabashed love of the Ravens, Ulman has done a good job of getting his name out there. And while his ultimate prize might have been the governor's mansion in 2014, Ulman realized that the Martin O'Malley Democratic machine was putting all of its efforts behind current Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, making a Brown-Ulman ticket an enticing and, ultimately, more realistic move.
But it wasn't just a safer play for Ulman. Brown needs Ulman as well.
Brown, who served just two terms in the House of Delegates before becoming O'Malley's lieutenant governor, needed someone with Ulman's resume to round out the ticket. In Ulman, Brown gets a progressive leader who has shown he's big on green technology and the environment, an advocate for health care and someone who has run a local government effectively during the most trying fiscal time in the last century. It also doesn't hurt that Howard County has the top-rated school system in the state.
Opponents will counter that Ulman is the architect of a "nanny state" for such things as his Healthy Howard initiative, the county's ban on sugary drinks or outlawing smoking in county parks. But even opponents would have to agree that these stances will play well with Democratic voters, the kind that Brown needs to win a primary against potential candidates such as Attorney General Doug Gansler, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger or state Del. Heather Mizeur.
Ulman is a good catch for Brown. And for Ulman, the governor's office can wait another four or eight years.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun