Former Republican County Executive Laura Neuman endorsed Democrat Steuart Pittman Wednesday, saying he would be a more effective leader over County Executive Steve Schuh.
Neuman lost to Schuh in a bitter Republican primary four years ago. She assumed county leadership after then-County Executive John Leopold’s conviction for abusing his office.
Unaffiliated now, Neuman served as county executive as a Republican. She lives in Baltimore County.
Neuman criticized Schuh for putting “most of the Leopold machine on his campaign payroll,” and returning those employees to county government.
“My issue with then-Del. Schuh was that he ran an ugly smear campaign based on false information about me,” she said. “The voters are there to make an assessment or judgment based on record. When he couldn’t attack my record, he attacked me personally. But my decision about Steuart is about him being a better candidate for the job.”
Pittman said he has been in talks with Neuman since he announced his campaign in November. She has given advice throughout the campaign, he said. Neuman said the Pittman campaign initially asked for her endorsement in the winter, but she needed to get to know him and his policies better.
Over the past few months, Neuman said she came to trust Pittman and to value his focus on strengthening local communities.
“Unfortunately, we’ve gone back to that time of one negative headline after the other, and I think Steuart is committed to a positive future for Anne Arundel County,” she said.
Pittman will face Schuh in the Nov. 6 election. Neither candidate faced a primary opponent.
“We are thrilled,” Pittman said. “Laura Neuman was a good administrator and a competent county executive. I’m proud to have her endorse me.”
A spokeswoman for the Schuh campaign said they heard about Neuman’s announcement and offered this comment in response:
"The County Executive is more focused on investing in education and protecting the public over the next four years than last minute endorsements from defeated electoral opponents,” said Megan Miller, Schuh spokeswoman.
The Republican primary between Neuman and Schuh was contentious. Neuman accused the Schuh campaign of shady campaign strategies, including talking with her mother. Neuman has acknowledged she has a rocky relationship with her family.
Schuh’s campaign painted Neuman as politically inexperienced. Both candidates traded barbs on who would reduce taxes more.