Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown named Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate Monday, establishing the first declared ticket in the 2014 Maryland governor's race.
A year before next June's primary election, the two Democrats appeared before a crowd of several hundred in Columbia. Both said they would build on the legacy of term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley, a signal that Brown would continue promoting his close ties to the governor in what could be a crowded Democratic field.
Ulman and Brown praised each other's records on expanding access to health care and increasing funding for education.
U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, was there to endorse the ticket, saying the pair "offer Maryland the most competent and caring leadership team."
"On the one hand, you've got Brown, who understands the role of the lieutenant governor and how to make it meaningful," Cummings said afterward.
"On the other hand, you have Ulman, who not only has been very progressive, but he has protected the progress of this county," Cummings said. "I just think you've got a hell of a combination."
Ulman had considered his own bid for governor, but ultimately chose to join Brown, bringing with him a $2.1 million campaign chest to add to Brown's $1.6 million. The combined sum still lags behind presumed Democratic candidate Douglas F. Gansler, Maryland's attorney general, who plans to announce his campaign in the fall. State Del. Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County also is expected to run.
A leading Republican welcomed the prospect of a fight among Democrats.
"There will be a great bloody battle for us to sit back and watch the Democrats spend millions of dollars attacking each other," said David Ferguson, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. "It should be exciting to watch the fireworks of who can out-lefty their opponents, who could go further to the left."
Ulman, in abandoning his own campaign, brings a wellspring of support from Howard County, where he won his last election with nearly 63 percent of the vote.
"I was disappointed at first," said teacher Shaundra Brown — no relation to the lieutenant governor —- who blew Ulman's wife, Jacqueline, kisses and hugged the couple's children. She said she came around to the idea of Ulman as lieutenant governor when she realized it might help Ulman have a longer career in state politics.
"This is going to be good to propel him, and I do believe we will see him in the governor's seat."
Ulman and Brown said later that they've been friends for nearly a decade, and that Ulman had been a guest at Brown's wedding. The political partnership developed over months of conversations, which aides said included family dinners.
"Ken has got a vision for the state that I share," Brown said. "It almost reminds me of where I was six or seven years ago when I was considering whether to join O'Malley. I asked the question: Is this someone who gets results?"
In remarks to the crowd, Ulman said Brown had redefined the role of lieutenant governor.
"I've been inspired by his work ethic, his energy, and his unyielding commitment to the families of this state," Ulman said. "When Anthony Brown asked me to be part of his team, the decision was simple. I said yes."
Brown, who has been lieutenant governor for six years, said he wants to continue to build on the policies of the administration of which he was part, which he said has given Maryland No. 1-ranked schools, kept college affordable and weathered the recession better than most states. He touted Maryland's new gun control law as well as its preparation to implement the federal Affordable Care Act next year.
"Maryland is a great state, but we can make it better," Brown said.
Diana Waterman, chairwoman of the Maryland GOP, said the rosy version of Maryland described by Brown ignores numerous tax and fee increases adopted in the past seven years.
"These are not symbols and signs of a happier Maryland for families," Waterman said.
Brown supporter Adiyah Ali, 32, drove from Baltimore to hear more about who would be running alongside the man she thinks will best continue O'Malley's policies. She first became enamored of Brown when she helped with O'Malley's re-election campaign, and saw Brown "carve out his own niche" working with health care policy.
As for Brown's running mate, "I didn't know him," Ali said. "I'm going to Google 'Ken Ulman.' "
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