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Laura Neuman, former Anne Arundel County executive, explores run for governor as a Democrat

Laura Neuman, who served as a Republican county executive for Anne Arundel County, has set up a campaign account that could serve as a first step toward a run for governor as a Democrat.

Neuman, who now lives in Baltimore County, formed a campaign finance committee Monday called “Laura Neuman for Governor.” Opening a campaign finance committee allows potential candidates to raise and spend money for political purposes.

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“I’m exploring a run for governor because I believe every Marylander should have access to opportunity, regardless of where their story starts,” Neuman said in a statement to the news website Maryland Matters, which was first to report her potential candidacy. Neuman could not be reached Tuesday by The Baltimore Sun.

If Neuman runs for governor, she’d be the first woman in the large Democratic field that’s currently populated solely by men. One woman is running in the smaller Republican primary, Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz.

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Neuman has had a unique career path both inside and outside politics.

Former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman, pictured in a file photo, has opened a campaign account that could serve as a first step for a Democratic gubernatorial run.
Former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman, pictured in a file photo, has opened a campaign account that could serve as a first step for a Democratic gubernatorial run. (By Joshua McKerrow, Staff)

Raised in Baltimore, Neuman survived a rape as a teenager, and became an advocate for sexual assault survivors. The man who assaulted her was convicted decades later.

Neuman wound up leaving high school and earning a GED. She eventually established a business career in the technology industry, and completed an MBA despite not having earned an undergraduate degree.

Neuman was serving as Howard County government’s top economic development official in 2013 when she applied for the open position of Anne Arundel County executive. The prior county executive, Republican John R. Leopold, had resigned after being convicted of misconduct in office.

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The Anne Arundel County Council, which was tasked with replacing Leopold, selected Neuman after multiple rounds of voting. Neuman served out the remainder of Leopold’s term, then lost a bid to win a full term in 2014.

Since then, Neuman moved from her home in the Annapolis area to one in Baltimore County. She also changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Neuman is serving as an “entrepreneur in residence” at the University of Maryland’s UM Ventures program, which advises students and faculty as they try to turn academic work into commercial businesses. According to her online resume, she’s also on the board for the University of Maryland’s Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute and is advising multiple companies.

The field of Democratic candidates includes former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, former nonprofit executive Jon Baron, state Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, former U.S. Secretary of Education John King, former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, author and former nonprofit executive Wes Moore, former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, and activist and philosopher Jerome Segal.

Declared Republican candidates include Del. Dan Cox, anti-tax advocate Robin Ficker and state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz. Also, Joe Werner of Baltimore County has filed to run as a Republican, and Michael Steele, a former lieutenant governor who is now a TV political analyst, has been weighing whether to run.

The deadlines for candidates to declare their candidacy in the 2022 elections is Feb. 22. Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, is serving his second term and is barred from running again due to term limits.

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