Hanover resident Hubert Owens wants to compete against the "big boy" politicians, which is why he moved to Maryland two years ago and has now filed to run in the State Senate District 32 race of the 2018 election.
The 38-year-old medically retired Army veteran is a Republican running in a district long held by Democrats since 1975. If he were to win, he would be the first black Republican state senator in District 32.
Rather than being the first of something, Owens said he wants to bring more conservative voices to the Maryland Senate.
When asked about his campaign platform and legislative plans, Owens said his developing focus includes fiscal responsibility and veterans' programs. He plans to hold monthly meetings with constituents.
"I don't want to be the elected official you only see once a year," Owens said. "That's so wrong."
Sen. Ed DeGrange, D-Millersville, is retiring at the end of his term. That leaves an open race in 2018. Del. Pam Beidle, D-Linthicum, has announced a run for his seat. Owens filed Sept. 7 but has not yet been listed online. For validation, he provided his candidate certificate.
Republican candidates have been energized by Gov. Larry Hogan's wide popularity. Owens said he is a fan of Hogan's work, pointing to his budget as an indicator of success.
Owens grew up in a military family and moved across the country several times before he joined the Army in 2006. He served until 2012, when he was medically retired. He said he was called to politics after he saw how veterans were treated in the transition from military service to civilian life.
It's tough for veterans to adapt, and they are adjusting to a life that isn't so rigorously structured, Owens said.
Owens has a master's degree in theological studies from Liberty University and a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Methodist University.
He was living in Atlanta with his wife, Cynthia Owens, when he felt the call to serve in public office. But he didn't want to run in Georgia because he viewed the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia area as the best place to start his political career, given its proximity to the seat of American government.
Maryland is where he said he saw growth in the Republican party, especially in Anne Arundel County. The Annapolis mayor, the county executive and the Maryland governor are Republican; all three hail from Anne Arundel County.