A Baltimore entrepreneur who has spent his career working to help people get jobs by improving how companies hire is making a surprise entrance into Maryland’s 2022 race for governor.
Mike Rosenbaum, a Democrat, said he is starting his campaign focused how to rebuild a post-pandemic economy that affords better opportunities to all Marylanders. He sees the state’s $60 billion budget as a tool to improve equity in the economy, with better spending of tax dollars.
Rosenbaum said he got to thinking about running for governor during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I found myself shaking my fist at the sky more and more,” he said.
“And the more I dug into the way our economy is put together in Maryland and nationally, looking at the state budget and what you could do if you only had the willingness and courage and vision to do it — frankly, I got even angrier, because it’s possible.”
“I said, ‘Why should I be someone who just shakes my fist at the sky about this? I should change it,’” Rosenbaum said. “That is what started me down this road.”
Rosenbaum said he would roll out over the course of the campaign specifics of how he’d spend state money to improve economic policy.
Rosenbaum, 49, built two companies based on upending how companies hire and train workers.
A native of Bethesda, he came to Baltimore in 1998 after working as an economist in the federal government. He holds degrees from Harvard University and the London School of Economics.
His first company, Catalyte, developed ways to identify people who might be successful in technology jobs and trained them. He said Catalyte has plugged thousands of people into high-paying jobs who wouldn’t have been considered otherwise because they lacked conventional education or experience.
Rosenbaum’s second company — called Pegged Software, now named Arena — uses data and analytics to reduce implicit bias in the hiring process, particularly for health care companies.
Rosenbaum said he’d use his experience in questioning assumptions that underlie economic systems as governor. “Those systems have meant that economic growth has accrued to a smaller and smaller percentage” of people, he said.
Coming out of the pandemic, Rosenbaum said, Maryland needs “an economy that enables everyone to have a pathway of economic security.”
Rosenbaum acknowledges that he has work to do in getting voters to know who he is and what he stands for before the June 2022 primary. He’s looking forward to traveling the state to get to know voters and to build coalitions with like-minded people who can help carry out his vision.
He counts among his friends and business associates Stewart Bainum Jr., a hotel executive and ex-politician who is attempting to buy The Baltimore Sun and its parent company, Tribune Publishing Co. Rosenbaum said that while he has been “incredibly supportive” of Bainum’s proposal, he’s not involved in the effort. Rosenbaum said it would inappropriate for a candidate for governor to be involved in the affairs of the state’s largest newspaper.
Rosenbaum joins five announced Democratic candidates for governor: State Comptroller Peter Franchot; former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; John B. King, a federal education secretary under President Barack Obama; Jon Baron, who works for the Arnold Ventures philanthropic organization; and Ashwani Jain, who worked in the Obama White House.
Other Democrats who’ve said they’re weighing a run include former Obama administration Labor Secretary Tom Perez; Doug Gansler, a former state attorney general; author Wes Moore, and U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown.
The best-known Republican candidate who’s announced so far that she’ll seek to succeed GOP Gov. Larry Hogan is his commerce secretary, Kelly Schulz. State law bars Hogan from seeking a third, four-year term.
No candidate has filed paperwork with the state elections board to run; the deadline isn’t until Feb. 22. Rosenbaum created a campaign finance committee late last month, which allows him to start fundraising.