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Politics

Republican Kelly Schulz taps fellow Hogan administration appointee as running mate in race for governor

Republican candidate for governor Kelly Schulz announced that Jeff Woolford, a Maryland Department of Health official, will join her ticket as running mate for lieutenant governor.

Woolford, a first-time candidate, is the chief medical officer and an assistant secretary for the agency. He previously held several other roles under Gov. Larry Hogan, a fellow Republican, including a stint in 2020 as chief of staff for the Department of Human Services.

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Woolford is a former U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and flight surgeon and is a lieutenant colonel in the Maryland Air National Guard.

Schulz served in Hogan’s cabinet since the two-term governor first took office in 2014. Schulz first served as secretary of labor, licensing and regulation, then in 2019 became commerce secretary, a post she held until resigning the position last month to focus on her campaign.

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She previously served as a Republican delegate from Frederick County.

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Schulz praised Woolford’s “professional experience, personal character and life story” in announcing his addition Tuesday to her ticket, including his “instrumental role” in helping lead the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. She told The Baltimore Sun that her campaign spent several months vetting potential picks.

“It is a tremendous honor to be part of this ticket and to run alongside Kelly Schulz as we continue to work toward a brighter future for all Marylanders,” Woolford, a Baltimore native who lives in Carroll County with his wife and two children, said in a statement. “Over the last seven years, Maryland has made a lot of progress, and I am committed to making sure we continue in the same direction.”

The selection of a fellow Hogan appointee — particularly an official involved in the Hogan administration’s COVID-19 response — sharpens the Republican primary showdown for the nomination against Frederick County Del. Dan Cox. He has helped file numerous unsuccessful lawsuits to overturn coronavirus restrictions and called for Hogan’s impeachment earlier this month. Other Republican lawmakers dismissed Cox’s impeachment effort, and a Hogan spokesman has called Cox “a QAnon conspiracy theorist.”

Former Republican President Donald Trump endorsed Cox in the race while taking shots at Hogan, a bitter intraparty rival with whom he has feuded repeatedly. Hogan denounced Trump numerous times through the years and said in 2016 and 2020 that he wouldn’t vote for Trump.

Hogan, who is term-limited and is not running for reelection, has repeatedly expressed his support for Schulz and touted her candidacy in response to attacks from Cox and Trump.

Maryland voters lean heavily Democratic, backing President Joe Biden 2-to-1 over Trump in 2020, and Democrats hold most statewide offices. But Republicans have won three of the past five gubernatorial elections in the state. Hogan has maintained strong approval ratings in most polls after cruising to reelection in 2018 over Democrat Ben Jealous.

Perennial anti-tax candidate Robin Ficker and Baltimore County resident Joe Werner have also filed to run for the Republican nomination in the June 28 primary. Ten candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination.


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