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Hogan appoints familiar face to commerce secretary as Schulz prepares for departure

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan appointed a new secretary of commerce Thursday in anticipation of the departure of Secretary Kelly Schulz, who is running for governor.

Former Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill has been tapped to replace Schulz who will transition out of the job in January, said Mike Ricci, spokesman for the governor.

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Schulz, a former Republican delegate from Frederick County and a member of Hogan’s cabinet since his first days in office in 2014, announced a bid for governor in April. Schulz initially served as Hogan’s secretary of labor, licensing and regulation before becoming secretary of commerce in 2019.

Schulz will face Republican state delegate Dan Cox, of Frederick County in the Republican primary in June, as well as Baltimore County resident Joe Werner and Robin Ficker of Montgomery County.

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Gill, who has returned to his position as chairman of Evergreen Advisors, was tapped to serve as Hogan’s secretary of commerce from 2015 to 2019. During his tenure, the agency was rebranded — it was previously called the Department of Business and Economic Development — and Gill was the enthusiastic face of Hogan’s efforts to brand Maryland as “open for business.”

Hogan also nominated James F. Ports Jr. to lead the Department of Transportation. Ports previously served as the Maryland Transportation Authority’s executive director, a position he has held since 2019. Ports, a Republican, served in the House of Delegates from 1991 to 2003, and was deputy director of the Department of Transportation from 2004 to 2007.

William Pines, the Maryland Transportation Authority’s chief engineer, has been named as Ports’ replacement.

The timing of Hogan’s appointments comes just ahead of the start of session for the Maryland General Assembly, which is due to convene Jan. 13. Gill and Ports must be confirmed by the Senate.

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