Comptroller Peter Franchot called for less partisan politics on Wednesday at his first meeting of the Board of Public Works following his lost bid to be Maryland’s next governor.
“I would encourage all of our elected officials to tone down the partisanship we see at the national level and lets have a renaissance of communicating with each other about what we can do together to make the state that we love so much a better place,” he said.
Franchot, who led and then polled neck-and-neck with the front-runners for Maryland’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination ahead of last week’s election, wound up third in the Democratic primary behind winner Wes Moore and former U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
Moore, who beat Perez by seven points, will face off against Republican Dan Cox, a Trump supporter and 2020 election results denier, in November’s general election. Cox is a state delegate.
“That, obviously, did not end the way that I wanted it to and, like everybody, I’m disappointed and I have regrets sometimes,” Franchot said at the start of Wednesday’s meeting. “But overall it was a tremendous experience interacting with the wonderful citizens of the state of Maryland.”
Franchot, a self-described “fiscal moderate that is socially compassionate,” said the majority of Marylanders align on some portion of the political spectrum.
“My only advice down the road is, perhaps, we should broaden some of our parties … with independent voters being allowed to vote in the primaries because that’s the way we could get more individuals, I think, that are more that are more moderate on fiscal issues,” he said.
The Board of Public Works — comprised of the governor, comptroller and state treasurer — approves or denies state government contracts for executive agencies.
Republican Barry Glassman and Democrat Brooke Lierman will square off in November for the comptroller’s job. Glassman was unopposed in the July 19 primary; Lierman defeated Tim Adams. The position pays between $145,500 and $149,500 annually.
Franchot, who has a few months left in his tenure as the state’s comptroller, said in an interview after Wednesday’s meeting that aside from “reinventing” himself as “a home appliance repairman,” he plans to spend his last few months focusing on economic policy.
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“We’re still putting together plans about how to best introduce — as I exit — exactly what the recommendations would be for the future,” Franchot said.
He and Gov. Larry Hogan will no longer sit on the board after the January inauguration, leaving Dereck E. Davis, who was elected by the legislature to replace former State Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp last December, as the “old-timer,” Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford said.
“I told the new people they can lean on me and rely on my years of experience,” the treasurer joked.
Rutherford, who sat in for Hogan at Wednesday’s meeting, thanked Franchot on behalf of the administration for running a “very positive” campaign and not taking cheap shots at other candidates on the debate stage.
“I think it was admirable and a good message to others,” Rutherford said.
Davis, who had served with Franchot in the Maryland General Assembly, said the comptroller has “a lot to be proud of.”
“I know what it’s like to run an election and come up just a little bit short — the difficulty, the pain — but if it will go away. It does subside, and then you look back and I know that you’ll be confident in all that you’ve done,” Davis told Franchot.