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Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says he is running for governor.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says he is running for governor. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot plans to run for governor in 2022.

“I don’t think it’s a mystery to anybody that I’m running," Franchot said in an interview Thursday with The Baltimore Sun. He added that “everybody and their cousin” has been asking him about whether he’d get in the race.

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The Democratic comptroller spent much of the day doing media interviews confirming his intention to seek the state’s highest office, after he told a crowd at a fundraising event earlier in the week that he intended to run for the state’s highest office.

The move comes early in the election cycle and makes him the first candidate of either party to announce a run. Franchot has not filed paperwork to run for governor, nor has he officially launched a campaign.

It’s too early for any candidates to file to run in the 2022 elections. The filing period won’t open until 2021.

Franchot said as “an outsider” who is “not the pick of the establishment,” he will need time to get his ideas out and to pick up momentum with voters.

“I don’t mind having a long period in which to go around the state, in addition to my job as comptroller, [and] also be asked what I would do if I were governor,” Franchot said.

In August, he emailed fundraising pitch to supporters, asking them to donate to his campaign to disrupt the “Annapolis Machine.” At the time, he told The Baltimore Sun: “I haven’t made my mind up completely.”

He said Thursday that a strong run of fundraising over the last several months tipped the scales in favor of seeking the office. Franchot would not say how much money he’s raised. The next round of state campaign finance reports are due Wednesday.

As of last January, Franchot had a little more than $1 million in his campaign account.

Franchot has positioned himself as a political outsider who aims to change the status quo in state government, although he has been in elected office since 1987 — first as a state delegate representing Montgomery County, then statewide as comptroller since 2007.

As comptroller, Franchot has often been at odds with other Democratic elected officials. Last year, state lawmakers passed a law that will move oversight of alcohol and tobacco regulations from the comptroller’s office and to a new, independent agency. And in 2018, Franchot declined to endorse the Democratic nominee for governor, Ben Jealous. Jealous lost to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who has often been an ally of Franchot’s.

Hogan is in his second, four-year term and is barred from running again, creating an open seat for governor in the 2022 election.

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