State Sen. Allan Kittleman, a West Friendship Republican, said Wednesday he is organizing a campaign for county executive, and if he gets the funds and support he needs, he will run in 2014.
During remarks June 27 at a breakfast fundraiser at Jilly's Bar and Grill, in Ellicott City, Kittleman said he was not making a formal announcement, but noted: "We are making preparations, and we are putting an organization together to anticipate we will be moving for county executive in 2014.
"If I can't get that, I'm not going to put my family through it," Kittleman said. "If we have the resources, if we have the organization, we're running."
Some in the crowd of about 60 at the fundraiser expressed their support for Kittleman's plans.
"I'm hopeful that he gets the support that he needs," Howard County Republican Party Chairwoman Loretta Shields said. She noted that Kittleman is "pro-business," and the county needs someone who will take a look at the county's spending.
Party Secretary Kevin Rodkey agreed and said that doesn't mean slashing the county budget.
"It just means spending smartly and not always saying we're going to raise taxes because we need more money," he said.
Republican Party Vice Chairman Dave Myers said Kittleman "is unique" and his message of individual freedom really resonates with young professionals like himself.
"If he has the funding, there's no way you can beat that type of a message," he said.
Asked if there were any other Republicans interested in running for county executive, Shields said: "No one has stepped forward to say they're interested."
In addition to the many people who have encouraged him to run, Kittleman said he commissioned a poll, the results of which helped push him to formally organize a campaign.
The poll, conducted this spring by the national Republican political research firm Public Opinion Strategies, surveyed 450 likely county voters.
The poll showed Kittleman 20 points ahead of both Del. Guy Guzzone and County Council member Courtney Watson, widely considered the two most likely Democratic candidates.
"The results of that poll show that someone who's pro-business, a fiscal conservative and supports individual freedom can win in Howard County, even with an 'R' next to their name," Kittleman said.
County Council member Greg Fox, a Fulton Republican, added: "Only Allan Kittleman with that message can win. ... This is really our (party's) last shot at (county executive) based on how things have moved."
Neither Guzzone nor Watson have done any polling for 2014, they said in interviews after Kittleman's announcement.
Watson said it's too early to discuss a race still more than two years away.
"I'm spending my time working very hard to create good policies at the (council) level," she said.
Guzzone was also noncommittal about his plans to run for county executive in 2014.
"I am putting together the necessary pieces to make sure that option is open to me," he said.
County Executive Ken Ulman, a Democrat, is barred from running for re-election because of term limit restrictions.
In 2010, Kittleman's stepmother Trent Kittleman, also a West Friendship Republican, ran against Ulman. Ulman, who outspent Trent Kittleman by a wide margin, won by 26 percentage points.