The 2022 race for Anne Arundel County executive is shaping up, with three Republicans, Councilwoman Jessica Haire, Del. Sid Saab and former Del. Herb McMillan, all mulling bids.
Haire, a Republican from Edgewater, formed an exploratory committee to consider leaving her council seat to campaign for the executive’s office. The committee will be led by House Minority Leader Del. Nic Kipke, R-Pasadena. Haire was elected to the council in 2018.
McMillan confirmed he was considering a bid via text on Wednesday but was out of town and unavailable for an interview. The Annapolis Republican is a former city alderman who served in the House of Delegates from 2003 to 2007 and again from 2011 to 2019. In 2006, he unsuccessfully challenged state Sen. John Astle, an Annapolis Democrat who has since retired.
Saab, who represents District 33, is also mulling a run. He said he announced an exploratory committee to constituents in a private event but has been largely focused on the legislative session. He said Anne Arundel County residents need a leader, and he thinks his business and legislative experience would make him a good one.
If any of them enter the race, they will be up against local businessman Chris Jahn, who filed for candidacy at the end of February.
Jahn confirmed his candidacy in an email Wednesday but declined to comment.
Haire said she is still in the early stages and isn’t leaning any one way at this time. She said she has seen how partisan politics can get on her time with the council, but she also has seen the council work together in bipartisan efforts supported by residents.
“I’ve had a lot of people say I should do it,” Haire said, mentioning supporters told her they liked her energy and focus on the council. “I’m certainly interested in exploring it. I’m very curious to see what the committee will say.”
Kipke said Haire would be the “strongest Republican to take on Pittman next year.”
“She’s demonstrated great leadership on the council, is fair and personally very accomplished. She represents the very best of the party, and I’m excited about what her leadership would mean for Anne Arundel County.”
A campaign finance report for Haire from January shows she raised $138,472 between January 2020 and this year and has $122,912 in the bank.
Pittman said Haire’s campaign finance report suggests that she is the clear choice for real estate developers in the county.
“I expect her campaign will be well-funded if she chooses to run,” Pittman said. “I look forward to a respectful debate over my team’s performance and the way forward for our county.”
Pittman had no political experience when he ran for executive in 2018, defeating incumbent Steve Schuh. He has pursued what he describes as a progressive agenda, including minor tax increases to support education spending.
He also is advocating for legislation in the General Assembly this year that would give him power to seek a targeted increase in real estate transfer for sales over $1 million and income taxes for top earners. He has said the money would fund initiatives in affordable housing and other priorities.
In her time on the council, Haire has sponsored legislation on septic and wastewater systems, public works and zoning. She’s supported legislation relating to forest conservation and has voted against budgets for fiscal 2020 and 2021.
Haire, whose committee was first reported Wednesday by the website Maryland Matters, was the only Republican on the council to support a resolution condemning the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Though she said she didn’t agree with everything in the resolution, she said she voted for it because she agreed unequivocally with the condemnation of violence to harass or threaten people or the public.
Most recently, she introduced a bill that would increase the limit on the county’s Revenue Reserve Fund from 5% to 6%, encouraging the county to slowly build up its savings. The bill has bipartisan support and will be eligible for a hearing on April 5.
Haire is married to Dirk Haire, chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
Maryland Policy & Politics
McMillan’s two stints as delegate earned him a reputation as a Republican willing to take on his party, saying in 2018 he was tired of “political bosses” when he decided not to run for reelection. At the time, McMillan said he felt he was fighting a two-front war against late Democratic heavyweight Michael Busch, who was Speaker of the House, and then-Republican County Executive Steve Schuh. He criticized both parties for being too partisan.
McMillan has not yet established a campaign committee for county executive. However, a committee formed during his time as a delegate is still active. A campaign finance report from January shows McMillan has $27,522 in the bank.
“I’ve been a leader in the fight to reopen Anne Arundel County schools and restart our economy. Community and business leaders have asked me to bring my proven record of experience and leadership to county government,” McMillan said. “I am considering a run and will announce my decision at the end of the month.”
Republican Chris Jahn is the only person who has filed for the 2022 race, according to the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Jahn created a campaign committee on Feb. 23. There aren’t any financial statements available yet.
In a Facebook post last month, he said he was just beginning to form a platform.
“If you live in Anne Arundel County, please let me know what issues are important to you. I really want to know.”