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Acknowledging ‘Uphill Climb,’ Glassman Launches Campaign for Comptroller

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman (R), shown here at the Maryland Association of Counties summer conference in 2019, is running for comptroller. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Standing in front of the fire house where he served as a volunteer EMT — the spot from which he has launched all his campaigns — Harford County Executive Barry Glassman (R) announced on Thursday that he will run for Comptroller next year.

During remarks to supporters, the 59-year-old Republican said “the comptroller is the voice of the taxpayer and is also their watchdog.”

“I want to take Harford’s model of efficiency and customer service to every corner of the state.”

Although he is a Republican, Glassman’s prepared remarks included fond memories of his interactions with legendary former Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein (D). He also offered subtle digs at U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) and the state’s unemployment insurance system.

Glassman had considered running in the open gubernatorial primary. He also thought about challenging the pugilistic Harris before deciding he didn’t have the stomach for a roughhouse primary.

“When you look at GOP congressional primaries nowadays, it’s who can get up and be nastier and meaner every day, and divisive. And if you know me, you know that’s not me,” he said. “I think we’ve settled on the right race at the right time.”

“If Congressman Harris would have kept his pledge on term limits, I may have ran for the congressional seat,” he added.

A former state delegate and senator who is term-limited in Harford, Glassman becomes the most high-profile Republican to seek the post being vacated by Peter V.R. Franchot (D). The state’s four-term tax-collector announced last year that he intends to run for governor in 2022.

Del. Brooke E. Lierman (D-Baltimore City) and Bowie Mayor Timothy J. Adams (D) have launched comptroller campaigns, and other Democrats have said they are also considering a bid.

Glassman acknowledged that any Republican running statewide enters the contest as an underdog, but he said he is proud of his track record.

He attracted 67% of the vote in his 2018 re-election campaign, outperforming President Trump, who got 55% of the vote in Harford two years later.

“I think I’ve shown in 30 years that I have the ability to attract Democrats, independents, Republicans, in a broad coalition,” he said. “Folks are always looking for their comptroller to be a moderate.”

Glassman is well-liked by the executives from Maryland’s other large counties and he served a stint as president of the Maryland Association of Counties. He had a not insignificant $441,476 in his campaign account as of mid-January.

Jockeying intensifies following end of legislative session

Glassman’s announcement comes amid a flurry of activity related to the 2022 elections.

On Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford (R) told Maryland Matters that he will not run for governor.

Hours after his comments became public, Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz (R) launched her bid to succeed the term-limited Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).

Glassman launched his bid for comptroller one day later.

Political analyst Todd Eberly said the state’s best-known Republicans — particularly those like Glassman who have demonstrated crossover appeal — are wise to seek different offices.

“Schulz and Glassman make for a good team,” said Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. “They can run together, which is not always the case among Republican candidates who are seeking statewide office.”

Glassman acknowledged that Republicans lack a deep bench and are wise not to engage in potentially costly and divisive primaries, but he downplayed the suggestion that there’s been formal coordination.

“I think that’s the reality that we all kind of comprehend,” he said of the GOP’s challenges in Maryland. All statewide races “are pretty steep climbs.”

“There’s really not been orchestration,” added a prominent Maryland Republican. “The state party is not that well organized to do this kind of orchestration, but it’s rational thinking [on our part].”

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Acknowledging ‘Uphill Climb,’ Glassman Launches Campaign for Comptroller