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Maryland comptroller Franchot ramps up 2022 campaign for governor with video, consulting firm

State Comptroller Peter Franchot announced the start of a tax-free retail week in 2016 during a visit to Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore.
State Comptroller Peter Franchot announced the start of a tax-free retail week in 2016 during a visit to Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore. (Amy Davis / Baltimore Sun)

Maryland’s Democratic Comptroller Peter Franchot rolled out a video Tuesday to introduce himself to voters as a candidate for governor.

Franchot announced nearly a year ago that he planned to seek his party’s nomination in 2022.

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Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is in his second, four-year term and term limits bar him from running again.

In the two-minute “Ready on Day One” video, Franchot highlights his work over more than a decade as the state’s comptroller, calling himself a “fiscal watchdog” and “careful steward” of Maryland’s finances. At the same time, he attempts to position himself as a fresh face in politics.

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“I have the vision of an outsider and the skills of an insider,” he said, pledging to fix every pothole across the state in his first 60 days office, as well as “pick up the trash.”

Franchot, 73, who lives in Takoma Park, has been involved in Maryland politics for decades. He was first elected to office in 1987 as a state delegate representing Montgomery County. He was elected comptroller in 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 to a new, independent agency. And in 2018, Franchot declined to endorse the Democratic nominee for governor, Ben Jealous. Jealous lost to Hogan, who has often been an ally of Franchot’s.

During a meeting last week of the state’s Board of Revenue Estimates, Franchot pushed for the state to develop its own stimulus package to assist residents and businesses with financial burdens caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Franchot announced Tuesday he has hired the Tidemore political consulting firm to lead his campaign. Co-founder Ben Smith is a former executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party and a co-author of Jealous’ gubernatorial campaign platform. Co-founder Ben Groff managed Baltimore City Comptroller Bill Henry’s Democratic primary campaign this year.

In his most recent campaign finance report, filed in January, Franchot reported having $1.6 million on hand.

No other candidates have announced they are running, and candidates can’t file for the race until 2021. Republican Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford has said publicly that he is considering a run for governor.

Democratic Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. and Republican County Executive Barry Glassman of Harford County acknowledged earlier this month to The Baltimore Sun that people have been talking about whether they might seek the job.

Olszewski said he’s flattered by the interest but currently focused on the coronavirus crisis. He said there would be plenty of time later to talk about his future.

Glassman said people also have asked him about running for comptroller.

U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, a Democrat who represents parts of Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, is considering running too, according to a source with knowledge of his thinking who declined to be named because no decision has been made.

Christian Unkenholz, a spokesperson for Brown, declined to comment. Brown was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2014, losing to Hogan 47% to 51%.

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Former Obama administration Education Secretary John B. King Jr. this fall formed an advocacy group focused on Maryland issues. He told The Associated Press at the time that it was fair to say he wasn’t ruling out a gubernatorial bid.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeffrey Barker contributed to this article.

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