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"While we will never see the abundance of wildlife that Captain John Smith wrote about 400 years ago, I would be satisfied with a return of all the indicator species to healthy levels."
"While we will never see the abundance of wildlife that Captain John Smith wrote about 400 years ago, I would be satisfied with a return of all the indicator species to healthy levels." (By Matthew Cole, Staff , Carroll County Times)

Ron George says he would balance the state's budget - without new taxes - and repeal Maryland's recent gas tax increase and stormwater fees if elected governor in 2014.

At an event on Wednesday at the Sheraton Annapolis Hotel, the two-term Republican delegate from Arnold laid out a 10-point plan to to build a "new Maryland."

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George promised to repeal recent measures to hike the state's gas tax and require 10 jurisdictions, including Anne Arundel County, to impose stormwater fees.

The small-business owner also said he would lower the corporate income tax and work to make Maryland more business-friendly.

Joined by fellow Republicans, including House Minority Leader Nic Kipke of Pasadena and state Sen. Ed Reilly of Crofton, George said Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration has decimated the state's tax base.

"I have a vision of what Maryland can be," he said.

George said Maryland can be "a state that leads the nation in job creation, education outcomes, energy independence, technology infrastructure; a state you can afford to live in, a state you can retire in, a state that recognizes the shortcoming of the Great Society experiment and begins to empower people of all races and encourages work over welfare."

He is the second Republican to officially declare himself a candidate for governor. Harford County Executive David R. Craig did so on Monday.

George said he has a "little more name recognition than people think."

Asked why he thinks he can defeat candidates like Craig and early Democratic favorite Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, George said people are looking for a candidate they can identify with.

"People are looking for a change. I don't think they want career politicians," said George, who has worked as an actor, a dishwasher and a shelf-stocker. He started his own jewelry business, opening a shop on Main Street in Annapolis more than 20 years ago.

While Reilly said he was "encouraging" Craig, he endorsed George on Wednesday, presenting him with a $500 personal check.

He touted George's advocacy of pro-life positions and understanding of "school choice." The George family home-schools its children.

George also proposed creating a scholarship system in which students who pass an entrance exam to a nonpublic school receive money to attend "without the state having to pay a penny more."

This would work by setting up a "scholarship" of half the $13,900 it costs Marylanders each year to educate a student. George claimed the result would be smaller class sizes and better pay for teachers in public schools.

Kipke cited George's success in the 2010 election, when he was re-elected as delegate with the most votes received by any Republican candidate in the county.

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George garnered 25,631 votes, more than the two other delegates in his district: House Speaker Michael E. Busch, D-Annapolis, and Del. Herb McMillan, R-Annapolis.

George's campaign is "an uphill battle," said Kipke, who didn't officially endorse him. "But if people just get a chance to know him, they'll vote for him despite his party affiliation."

Michael S. Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman, is another potential competitor. On a radio show last week, he confirmed he is looking into a gubernatorial bid.

George said Steele told him months ago that he was thinking about an announcement "maybe by the end of the year."

Another Republican expected to run is Blaine R. Young, president the Frederick County Board of Commissioners.

On the Democratic side, the race is also heating up early. Brown made his candidacy official last month and since then has announced that Howard County Executive Ken Ulman is his running mate.

State Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur, D-Montgomery, are also expected to run. U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Baltimore County, is a fourth possibility.

About 200 people attended Wednesday's event. Others from the State House in attendance were Dels. Joe Boteler, R-Baltimore County; Tony McConkey, R-Severna Park; and Steve Schuh, R-Gibson Island. Schuh has announced a 2014 run for Anne Arundel county executive.

Also attending were Annapolis Alderman Fred Paone, R-Ward 2; Anne Arundel County Councilman Dick Ladd, R-Severna Park; Anne Arundel County Republican Central Committee Chairman Alan Rzepkowski; and Anne Arundel County Circuit Court Judge Ronald A. Silkworth.

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