3:59 PM EDT, June 11, 2013
One half of the Howard County executive race became official Tuesday when Republican state Sen. Allan Kittleman announced his candidacy.
The other half, Democratic Councilwoman Courtney Watson, has yet to file and said Tuesday she is giving a possible run "very strong consideration" and will decide soon. Many, however, including Kittleman, expect Watson to be the Democratic candidate and think her announcement is inevitable because the other top Howard Democrats, Del. Guy Guzzone and Councilman Calvin Ball, have said they don't plan to run for the executive job.
Candidates have until next February to file but most plan to do so much earlier because of an early June primary. Aside from the political brinkmanship of deciding when is the right moment to announce, a more salient reason for early filing has more to do with fundraising than anything else. From that perspective, Watson holds an early lead. And with many more registered Democrats in Howard than Republicans, Watson has a perceived edge there, too.
But Kittleman will point to a voting record of support for same-sex marriage and against the death penalty to attract Democratic voters. Of course, Watson will likely counter that she has been elected countywide to the school board and, most recently, in a council district that, as she told the Baltimore Sun, is "the only swing district in Howard County for council members."
If it develops as expected, a Kittleman-Watson matchup would give voters a real choice between two experienced politicians with deep roots in the county. Our hope is that voters will have ample opportunity to quiz them before next year's election.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Kittleman needs an official opponent first.