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Lt. Gov. Rutherford won’t run for Maryland governor

Cross Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford off the list of potential candidates for Maryland governor next year.

The Republican said Wednesday that after months of weighing the pros and cons, he’s opting not to run for the state’s highest office.

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“I just felt it was best that I focus on the family and just not put them through this,” Rutherford said in an interview. “I just did not want it bad enough.”

Rutherford, 64, was elected lieutenant governor alongside Gov. Larry Hogan in 2014, and reelected in 2018. The duo is in their second and final term together; due to term limits, Hogan cannot run again in 2022.

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Rutherford came to the office with extensive experience in government procurement at the state and federal levels, including a stint as secretary of the Maryland Department of General Services. He also was an assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rutherford has worked on issues including mental health services, the opioid crisis and procurement reform. He has a dry sense of humor that’s been showcased in a series of YouTube videos about state government called “Mundane (But Meaningful).” He’s also visited more than half of Maryland’s state parks, promoting them on social media.

During Hogan’s treatment for cancer in 2015 and last year during the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Rutherford was assigned to oversee most functions of state government while the governor was focused on the crises at hand.

Hogan posted on social media that Rutherford is “a dedicated public servant and a passionate advocate for the people of Maryland.”

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“He and I will continue to work hard together for the next 20 months to change Maryland for the better,” the governor wrote, echoing their campaign slogan.

Rutherford had long been considered a possible successor to Hogan and said he was flattered by those who urged him to run. But he said he didn’t run with Hogan in the hope of becoming governor himself.

“I really wasn’t intending to look for the next job as being governor. In the very beginning, I didn’t have my eye on the governor’s seat,” he said.

Rutherford said he decided to announce that he’s not running so other potential candidates and donors could make their decisions.

Hours later, Kelly Schulz, the Hogan administration’s secretary of commerce, launched her gubernatorial campaign by dropping an announcement video on social media.

Rutherford said won’t back any candidates in the primary.

After his term ends in January 2023, Rutherford said he may return to practicing law or get involved in nonprofit work. He plans to spend more time brushing up on his Spanish, and he joked that he’s threatened to his wife, Monica, that he’ll resume playing the trumpet.

He said he’d consider a role advising the next governor — whoever that is — if asked. “Better to be outside than be on the inside and get fired,” he said.

Potential Republican gubernatorial candidates include Harford County Executive Barry Glassman and former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, now a TV commentator. Steele told The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday that he is “taking a hard, serious look at an opportunity to serve Marylanders again.”

On the Democratic side, the announced candidates include State Comptroller Peter Franchot and former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.

Several other Democrats are considering a run or being encouraged to get into the race, including: Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr.; former federal labor secretary and former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez; Doug Gansler, former Montgomery County prosecutor and state attorney general; author and activist Wes Moore, and U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown, a former lieutenant governor who was the party’s nominee in 2014.

Rutherford’s decision was first reported on the Maryland Matters website.

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