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Baltimore's Keiffer Mitchell, a former Democratic state delegate, is Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's new top lobbyist in Annapolis.
Baltimore's Keiffer Mitchell, a former Democratic state delegate, is Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's new top lobbyist in Annapolis. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan is turning to Baltimore’s Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. to lobby state lawmakers to advance his agenda.

Mitchell, who had been a senior adviser to Hogan, will take on the role of chief legislative officer, advocating for the Republican governor’s bills in the Democratic-led General Assembly.

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He replaces Christopher Shank, who had led Hogan’s lobbying efforts since 2016 and is taking a job in the private sector.

Mitchell, 52, is a former Democratic state delegate who retains friendships and professional relationships with his former colleagues — which he said he will rely on in his new position.

“My job is to be the face of the governor as we go through the session,” Mitchell said in an interview.

Mitchell also is a former member of the Baltimore City Council and former mayoral candidate, and he’s part of the famous Mitchell family of Baltimore that has been deeply involved in politics and civil rights for generations. His grandfather, Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. was an NAACP lobbyist and adviser to Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. His grandmother, Juanita Jackson Mitchell, was the first African American woman to practice law in Maryland.

Mitchell remains a registered Democrat and said he’ll work with members of both parties.

“Our job is to carry out the governor’s legislative agenda and enhance the governor’s call to reach across the aisle,” he said.

Democratic lawmakers have complained at times that the governor and his cabinet secretaries have not been as involved in the legislative process as they would like. Hogan has never appeared before a General Assembly committee to promote one of his bills. And cabinet secretaries often submit “letters of information” about bills, rather than position statements on whether they support or oppose the legislation.

Mitchell said the governor is “engaged” in the legislative process and cabinet heads are always available to answer lawmakers’ questions.

“They have opportunities to talk to and meet with cabinet secretaries,” he said.

Mitchell declined to preview of the governor’s initiatives for the 2020 General Assembly session, saying they’d be rolled out as the session approaches.

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