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Politics

Johnny Olszewski Jr. latest regional leader to endorse a Maryland gubernatorial candidate

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. is backing Tom Perez for governor, throwing his support behind the former U.S. labor secretary as the highly competitive Democratic primary race enters its final weeks.

Olszewski, who leads Maryland’s third-most populous jurisdiction, announced his selection Friday morning at a union hall in Dundalk. In an interview, he called Perez the “most qualified and tested” among a field with “several very worthy” Democrats.

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Olszewski, who considered a run for governor himself before deciding to run for reelection, is the latest county leader in the region to announce their pick in the primary.

Marc Elrich, executive of Montgomery County, the state’s most populous county, earlier endorsed Perez. Rushern Baker, former executive of vote-rich Prince George’s County and once a gubernatorial candidate himself, has not endorsed in the race.

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman and Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks are backing Wes Moore, an author and former nonprofit organization leader.

Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and Howard County Executive Calvin Ball have not announced any endorsements.

Two independent polls, one in early June and another this week, show a tight three-way Democratic race among state Comptroller Peter Franchot, Moore and Perez. Still, a sizable number of expected voters are undecided even with mail-in balloting underway and early voting starting next week.

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On the Republican side, Kelly Schulz has been backed by Gov. Larry Hogan. A former Hogan administration cabinet member, Schulz has also received the endorsement of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners. The county does not have an executive.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, who is running for state comptroller, has not endorsed a candidate.

Schulz is in a tight race against Del. Dan Cox, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

Roger Hartley, dean of the University of Baltimore College of Public Affairs, said endorsements from county executives can be “very, very helpful” — particularly in battlegrounds like Prince George’s, Montgomery and Baltimore counties.

“Counties are very powerful in the state of Maryland and county executives have a huge influence on every form of policy that is implemented,” Hartley said during a phone interview Thursday. “And, of course, certain counties are really important to statewide candidates.”

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Some members of Olszewski’s staff have connections to Perez. His former press secretary runs communications for Perez’s campaign, and his communications director worked for Perez at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Nine Democratic and four Republican candidates are vying for their party’s nomination to get on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, which also will offer voters a choice of third-party candidates. The next governor’s four-year term starts in January. Incumbent Hogan is term-limited after serving eight years.


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