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Politics

Former Venable chair James Shea weighs governor bid

Baltimore lawyer James L. Shea, who until last month was chairman of one the state's most prominent firms, said Wednesday he is seriously considering a run for governor and formed an exploratory committee to evaluate a bid.

Shea, a Democrat, has never held elective office but said the election of Republican President Donald J. Trump persuaded him to volunteer.

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"What's going on at the federal level is appalling, and it's dramatically affecting all of us, me included," Shea, a partner at Venable, said in an interview. "I'm very reluctant and unwilling to sit on the sidelines."

Shea helped elect former Gov. Martin O'Malley to his first term, and was chairman of the University of Maryland Board of Regents, as well as a member of a variety of public boards and commissions in the Baltimore area. He is a corporate litigator well known in legal and Democratic circles but has very little public name recognition.

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He said he plans to make a decision about running for governor by the summer, and joins a potential field of more than a half dozen Democrats considering whether to take on popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in 2018.

Shea said Hogan's lack of condemnation of recent Trump policies involving immigration, health care, and other issues "cry out for real leadership." A spokesman for Hogan declined to comment.

Shea notified Veneable staff Wednesday afternoon of his potential plans to run for office. He became the firm's managing partner in 1995 and chair in 2006. During Shea's tenure, the firm expanded from its D.C.- Baltimore base to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. He earned his bachelor's degree from Princeton in 1974 and law degree from the University of Virginia in 1977.

ecox@baltsun.com

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