Anne Arundel County Democrats, buoyed by their strong showing in last week’s Annapolis elections, may have finally found a candidate to run for county executive.
Multiple sources told Maryland Matters this week that Steuart Pittman, a Davidsonville horse farmer whose family has lived on 350 acres alongside the Patuxent River for eight generations, is preparing to run. Pittman, has been actively involved in county agricultural and development issues for several years, but has become increasingly disenchanted with County Executive Steve Schuh’s (R) development priorities.
“He’s a good man,” said one prominent Anne Arundel Democrat of Pittman.
Pittman declined to comment about his plans Wednesday evening. But several sources in Anne Arundel County said he is expected to roll out his campaign over the next several days, both with published materials and a few events, including some at his farm.
Anne Arundel Democrats have been looking for a candidate to challenge Schuh for several months. Schuh is a formidable incumbent with a $696,000 war chest as of last January. Some Democrats believe Pittman may have the personal wealth to compete with Schuh financially.
Equally significant, Democrats also believe that the political outlook in Anne Arundel has become dramatically brighter for them since last week’s election in Annapolis.
“It’s amazing how quickly things have changed,” said one county Democratic activist.
Pittman owns the Dodon Farm Training Center in Davidsonville, which among other things works to transition retired thoroughbred race horses for trail rides and other uses.
Pittman has been an occasional contributor to Democratic candidates and causes through the years, though according to state and federal campaign finance records he has never made a contribution greater than $500. He has also been a regular donor to the political action committee of the Maryland Horse Council — a group he serves as vice president.
He also donated $200 to Schuh in 2014.
Pittman grew up in Davidsonville and in Washington D.C., where his father was a high-ranking official in John F Kennedy’s administration. The elder Steuart Pittman, who died in 2013 at the age of 93, was in charge of the administration’s civil defense programs for nuclear preparedness, including the widespread push to build fallout shelters in public buildings.
The younger Steuart Pittman worked as a community organizer in Chicago and Iowa for the now-defunct organization ACORN, and also worked for the National Low Income Housing Coalition in Washington before returning to the family farm full-time in the early 1990s.
Some Anne Arundel political operatives thought Pittman was gearing up to run for the 7th District seat on the Anne Arundel County Council, where Councilmember Jerry Walker (R) is term-limited. But now it appears that Pittman has higher ambitions.
Several Anne Arundel Democrats have been emboldened by last week’s results in Annapolis, which saw Mayor-elect Gavin Buckley (D) defeat incumbent Mayor Michael Pantelides (R) by a whopping 24 points. Democrats expect to see several new candidates running for county and legislative seats in Anne Arundel next year.