Alfred W. Redmer Jr., the former Republican state delegate and insurance commissioner, announced Wednesday his return to politics with a run for the Maryland Senate.
Redmer's entry into the race escalates early campaigning in Baltimore County for the seat that's expected to be vacated by Republican Andrew P. Harris, who plans to run for Congress a second time.
Republican Del. J.B. Jennings has filed papers to become a candidate. Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr., a Democrat, also is considering entering the race and recently put his Reisterstown home on the market to move to Cockeysville and establish residency in the 7th District, which includes sections of Baltimore and Harford counties.
At a campaign kickoff rally at the Kingsville Volunteer Fire Company, Redmer laid out his plans and reasons for running. In an interview, he pointed to increasing dissatisfaction with the economy and the "political monopoly" in Maryland, a heavily Democratic state. The insurance company executive also noted his background in health care, an issue being tackled on the national and state levels.
"Like others throughout my district, I have been growing in my frustration with the direction of the state and the country," Redmer said, adding that many policymakers don't understand "the dynamics between business and government."
Redmer, who has been considering a run for the Senate seat for more than a year, helps run Landmark Insurance & Financial Group, an insurance and investment firm, and had been chief executive officer of Coventry Health Care of Delaware. Before that, Redmer was tapped by then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to lead the Maryland Insurance Administration. Redmer served for more than 12 years in the House of Delegates, including two years as minority leader, and had $15,911 remaining in his campaign account.
A 2010 matchup between Redmer and Smith would hark back to previous clashes between the two. In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isabel, Smith criticized Redmer's handling of insurance complaints, calling him "aloof." Redmer defended his office's efforts to resolve problems at the time.
Smith spokesman Don Mohler said the county executive, who is subject to a two-term limit and who had $956,583 in his campaign account this year, has not decided how he plans to remain in public service and is focused on his job.
Jennings had $12,960 in campaign funds this year.