Ron George, a former Anne Arundel County delegate who left the General Assembly to run for governor last year, said Monday that he will run for the state Senate in 2018.
George, a Republican who lost to Larry Hogan in the primary, will seek the District 30 seat held by Democratic Sen. John C. Astle, who has survived several close elections during his 32 years in the legislature.
After serving two terms in the House of Delegates from District 30, George was drawn into another district before deciding to run for governor. He said in his announcement that he is moving back to the district to be closer to his business, a well-known jewelry store on Main Street in Annapolis.
George said his early start -- coming three years before the election -- should give him an advantage in fund-raising.
"I know the district and its citizens well, but I want to knock on every door and hear from each person," he said in a news release.
George, 61, said he will make his formal announcement Tuesday at a news conference outside Ron George Jewelers. He said he will be joined by a large contingent of Anne Arundel Republicans including County Executive Steve Schuh, House Minority Leader Nic Kipke and Sen. Ed Reilly.
Republicans have long eyed the District 30 seat as one they should be able to win, but the moderate to conservative Astle has managed to eke out a majority even in bad years for Democrats. He won his last two elections with 51 percent of the vote.
In George, the GOP would have a candidate with high name recognition in the district and a stronger fund-raising track record than 2014 nominee Don Quinn.
Astle, who is serving his sixth Senate term after three in the House of Delegates, said he has a fund-raiser scheduled this week.
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"As it gets closer to 2018, I'll be looking at the landscape and see what I'm going to do," said Astle, 73. "But for now, count me in."
Astle said that even with George's early entry into the Senate race, it's by no means certain he will have a clear field in the GOP contest. He pointed to the possibility of a challenge from the incumbent Republican delegate who was Astle's 2006 opponent.
"I don't think Herb McMillan would have any compunction about taking on Ron in the primary," Astle said.
McMillan expressed surprise at George's early start.
"The last election was less than a year ago. The more I think about it the more I chuckle," he said. "I think the voters are intelligent enough to realize there are more candidates who will come forward."
McMillan said that for now he will concentrate on his role as delegate.
"I'm going to focus on doing a good job and the decision on what to do next will take care of itself," McMillan said.