Gubernatorial candidate Peter V.R. Franchot (D) made good on his pledge to choose an African American woman to be his running mate on Wednesday, tapping Prince George’s County Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker (D) to join his ticket.
Anderson-Walker, the founder of a commercial real estate brokerage firm based at National Harbor, is in her first term and will give up a relatively safe seat to team with the state’s four-term comptroller.
In an interview at his Bowie headquarters, Franchot said, “We interviewed a lot of very impressive people from all over the state, but Monique stood out.”
“She’s an unconventional politician, like me,” the comptroller said. “She actually believes in results, not rhetoric.”
He also expressed confidence that she “could step in and be governor.”
Franchot said that, if elected, Anderson-Walker, 50, “is going to have a portfolio as broad as mine.”
“This is going to be a different kind of relationship. She’s going to be, in a very substantive way, she’s going to be a co-governor.”
Shortly after Franchot announced his running mate, the website A Miner Detail reported that Walker and her husband, state Del. Jay Walker (D), have a $16,402 federal tax lien. The campaign confirmed that the couple recently satisfied a tax lien with the state.
“Anderson-Walker has resolved her personal liabilities and is in full compliance with a payment plan for her shared federal liabilities with her husband,” said Franchot campaign manager Ben Smith in a statement.
“Every year, hundreds of thousands of Maryland families face financial hardships. Women and persons of color have disproportionately borne that burden, and it has served as a constant block on their ability to advance their careers and stable, healthy lives,” Smith added.
A Franchot aide said the campaign was aware of the issues before he chose Anderson-Walker to join the ticket. The irony of the state’s tax collector choosing a running mate with tax problems quickly became a topic of discussion among people who follow politics closely.
In a joint statement, Monique and Jay Walker said: “We are in full compliance with a payment plan, and remain committed to resolving all outstanding liabilities. Like many Marylanders, we have endured financial struggles that are not easily and quickly resolved. Experiences like these come with consequences, and we have faced them head on by utilizing credible accountants and providing them with full and honest information. These struggles are not easy to talk about, but as public servants we are committed to transparency and accountability, in this and all matters.”
The campaign refused to disclose the amount of the state lien or how the Walkers fell behind financially.
Also emerging on Wednesday was an August opinion from the Prince George’s County Board of Ethics which concluded that Anderson-Walker was not in compliance with county ethics rules to avoid and disclose conflicts of interest when she voted on resolutions that benefitted the White Rose Foundation, which she represented as a broker, and by employing a staff member in her council office as an independent contractor at her brokerage service.
The campaign told The Washington Post that Anderson-Walker is fully compliant with the board’s findings, that the staff member no longer works at the brokerage service and that Anderson-Walker was not paid by the White Rose Foundation.
Anderson-Walker represents District 8 on the Prince George’s Council, which includes Oxon Hill, Camp Springs, Joint Base Andrews and Tantallon.
Franchot becomes the second top-tier candidate from the Washington, D.C., suburbs to choose a running mate from a neighboring county and not from the vote-rich Baltimore region.
Two weeks ago, former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) selected Montgomery County Councilwoman Nancy Navarro (D) to join his ticket.
The picks reinforce the shift in the state’s political center of gravity from the Baltimore region to Montgomery and Prince George’s, analysts said. Still, the strategy is not without risk.
“A candidate that ignores Baltimore does it at their own peril,” said Community College of Baltimore County political science professor John Dedie.
He said that if Franchot and Baker “end up fighting over that region, it’s going to allow somebody else to go into the Baltimore region and other parts of the state and say, ‘look, we care about you.’”
Franchot sloughed off the suggestion that he doesn’t have the Baltimore region on his radar.
“I’ve been up there over and over and over again,” he said. “They understand where I’m coming from. They know that — yes, I come from the Washington area — but I’m on their side. That’s why I’m so popular in Baltimore.”
In an interview, Anderson-Walker said she and Franchot spent months discussing the possibility of running together — and she said she is eager to engage with voters.
She also said she was “excited… to hear him say he’s looking for someone to be a true partner,” she said. “That’s what grabbed me.”
Franchot’s selection of a running mate came on the same day that AFSCME, Maryland’s largest union representing state workers, endorsed former federal and state labor secretary Tom Perez (D).
“Campaigns react to other candidates. I understand the impulse to do that,” said John T. Willis, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Public and International Affairs and the architect of former Democratic governor Parris N. Glendening’s successful campaigns. “And that’s not always the best path. You plan your own strategy and you execute your own strategy. You’re better served that way.”
Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.