Blaine Young, the combative Frederick County commission president who took an early lead in fund-raising among Republican candidates for governor, said Saturday that he will not attempt to succeed Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley in next year's election.
Young announced at a Frederick County festival that he decided not to run after polls showed the difficulty of a Republican winning in a Democratic-dominated state. His decision was expected because for months he had been sending pessimistic signals, saying the main reason he would run -- if he did -- would be to help other Republicans farther down the ballot.
With Young on the sidelines, the announced and expected GOP candidates are Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Del. Ron George of Anne Arundel County and Charles County businessman and former congressional candidate Charles Lollar. Others believed to be considering a race include former Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele and Larry Hogan, president of the conservative activist group Change Maryland.
Young said in an interview that his polling showed he would be competitive in a GOP primary but he said he would face a hard time against the Democratic nominee. "If I can't raise $10-$15 million, I didn't even have a chance," he said.
Young said he would support Lollar, who is expected to announce his candidacy next month. He said Lollar would be the "best choice" for Republicans because he could make inroads into Democratic strongholds. Young said he doubts that Steele, who like Lollar is an African American, will decide to run
The 41-year-old Young burst on the statewide scene in early 2012 as a favorite of young conservative activists. He made a big splash at the annual Crisfield crab festival and later announced an exploratory campaign for governor.
At the Republican state convention at Turf Valley last December, his supporters posted signs advertising him as a candidate for governor and he hosted what appeared to be the best-attended hospitality suite. For months he tested a message that he would wield a "peope's veto" to block any tax increases that might be passed by a Democratic-led General Assembly.
In January, Young posted fund-raising numbers that exceeded those of Craig, the presumed front-runner in the race, but after that Young's embryonic candidacy seemed to lose steam after some local controversies in Frederick. At this year's Crisfield gathering his presence was more muted.
Young held open the prospect that he might run for the newly created position of Frederick County executive, saying he expects to announce a decision by January.