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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political Notes: Schulz Airs First TV Ad, An Apology on the House Floor, Money for Baker, Money From Woolford, and More

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly M. Schulz and her running mate, Jeffrey Woolford, after filing their candidacy papers at the Maryland State Board of Elections this week. Photo by Josh Kurtz.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly M. Schulz, the former Maryland Commerce secretary, will begin airing a 30-second TV ad on Monday that spotlights her recent “Parental Bill of Rights” proposal, which, in the campaign’s words, is designed to empower parents and give families more choices in public education.

The spot will be running on cable TV stations in the Baltimore, Salisbury and Washington, D.C., media markets, the Schulz campaign said. It was produced by the campaign’s Annapolis-based media firm, Strategic Partners & Media, which also did work for Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).

The entire ad features Schulz standing in a classroom and addressing the camera, while graphics list the highlights of her Parental Bill of Rights.

“I’ve been a legislator, a member of Governor Hogan’s cabinet, and I ran a small business,” says in the ad. “And today, while I might be running for governor, I’m still a mom. So I know what it’s like to worry.

“It’s why I introduced a Parental Bill of Rights — providing real school choice, record funding, and accountability, with education transparency. And of course, schools have to be open and masks off. As your governor, I’ll fight for our children — all of them.”

The ad is expected to remain on the airwaves for at least a couple of weeks.

— Josh Kurtz

Del. McComas apologizes

Friday’s session on the House floor began with an apology from Del. Susan McComas (R-Harford).

Del. Jazz M. Lewis (D-Prince George’s) issued a call for McComas to apologize after she made a comment invoking the trope of absent Black fathers during a floor debate about classroom discipline on Thursday.

On Friday, McComas called her words from the previous day “inarticulate.” She said that she intended to say “how important” fathers are.

 “I was concerned about taking away the tools that a teacher would have when things are really out of control, and I apologize to the fathers on this floor,” McComas told her colleagues.

McComas neglected to apologize for singling out Black fathers.

This omission was not lost on Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, who said he received many calls from members of both parties after McComas’ statement.

 “… as much as I appreciate the apology, I think the apology would’ve been more if you would’ve said you apologize for the remarks when you said Black fathers,” he said to McComas. “So, on behalf of the Legislative Black Caucus, we accept your apology if you meant to say that you’re apologizing to Black fathers.”

Speaking without being recognized by House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), McComas told Barnes “obviously” she meant Black fathers, “but also all fathers, as well.”

— Hannah Gaskill

Baker campaign pockets $600,000 from public financing program

Rushern Baker’s gubernatorial campaign received an infusion of funds on Friday, when Campaign Manager Andrew Mallinoff picked up a sizable check from the state comptroller’s office.

The check — for $598,079.68 — represents the first tranche of funds that Team Baker earned through its participation in the state’s public financing system.

To qualify, the former two-term Prince George’s County executive had to raise $120,000 through contributions of $250 or less from at least 1,500 donors who live in-state. After verification from the state Board of Elections, candidates then receive matching funds through Maryland’s nearly 50-year-old public financing program.

The system pays an 8-1 match for the first $50 raised from every Maryland donor, a 6-1 match for the second $50, and a 2-1 match on the third $50. Campaigns that participate agree not to accept donations above $250, nor can they accept corporate or political action committee contributions.

Baker becomes the sixth candidate in state history to qualify for matching funds and the first this cycle.

Mallinoff said the campaign intends to submit donation records every two weeks going forward, which will trigger additional funds from the program.

Baker is seeking the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination for the second time. He ran unsuccessfully in 2018, finishing second behind Benjamin T. Jealous in the primary.

In 2014, Hogan became the first person in state history to use the public financing program and become governor. It was also used by Republican Ellen R. Sauerbrey and Democrat American Joe Miedusiewski in 1994, Democrat Heather R. Mizeur in 2014 and Democrat Richard S. Madaleno Jr. in 2018.

Jerome Segal, founder of the now-defunct Bread and Roses Party, has submitted a letter of intent to use the program this year but has not submitted contribution records to the state board.

Several counties — including Montgomery, Howard, Prince George’s and Baltimore County — either have or are considering public financing systems similar to the state’s, said Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the Maryland Board of Elections.

“It’s kind of taken hold,” he said. “It’s starting to grab a little bit more of a foothold. Before 2014, it was at best a little footnote in our law.”

Maryland’s program is in its third iteration. For most of its history, the program has suffered from a lack of funds. Last year, with bipartisan support, the General Assembly voted to provide a dedicated source of revenue.

— Bruce DePuyt

Money talks

You can learn something about a person by the campaign contributions they make.

Jeffrey Woolford, Schulz’s newly minted running mate, told reporters this week that he had contemplated a political career while serving in the Air Force, but wanted to wait until he had “come home” to Maryland.

A quick search of Woolford’s campaign contributions as tallied by the website Open Secrets, which tracks money in politics, showed that he has made $3,549 in donations to Republican candidates and organizations dating back to 2001. Most of his contributions were in small sums, including semi-regular contributions to the Maryland Republican Party, even when he was stationed out of state.

Woolford’s biggest contribution over the past 20 years, according to the Open Secrets data, was $1,000 to 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Woolford also made contributions to Hogan, to the Republican National Committee, and to former Del. William J. Frank (R), who represented Baltimore County for a dozen years.

— Josh Kurtz

The Mod squad

The political spending arm of the New Democrat Coalition, a U.S. House of Representatives caucus of moderate Democrats, added 1st District congressional candidate Heather R. Mizeur (D) to its candidate watchlist this week.

The New Democrat Coalition Action Fund expanded its 2022 watchlist Wednesday to include Mizeur, alongside California 22nd District candidate Rudy Salas and Ohio 1st District candidate Greg Landsman.

“Voters want pragmatic leaders who will meet them where they are and deliver results for their districts,” Rep. Bradley Schneider (D-Ill.), the New Democratic Action Fund chair said in a statement. “That means staying focused on the economy, from creating quality, well-paying jobs to addressing inflation pressures to helping communities find ways to safely operate and prosper in this COVID environment. These three watch-list candidates have strong teams and winning messages, and we look forward to marching with them towards victory.”

Mizeur, a former gubernatorial candidate and one-time state delegate from Montgomery County who now lives on the Eastern Shore, said in a statement that she’s committed to “solutions-oriented bipartisan leadership.”

She and other 1st District Democratic primary candidates are vying for a chance to unseat U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris, Maryland’s lone congressional Republican.

“I am campaigning how I will govern: focusing on the issues that matter most in our region, and building a broad coalition of supporters who want decent, pragmatic, and effective representation,” Mizeur said. “With the help of the New Democrat Coalition, we will defeat Maryland’s most radical congressman and bring back leadership we can be proud of.”

Mizeur reported raising $1.32 million in 2021, outraising Harris for the year.

Among Mizeur’s 1st District Democratic primary opponents is R. David Harden, a foreign policy consultant who rolled out an endorsement from a group of more than 200 former national security professionals Thursday. Harden is continuing to lean in to his foreign policy credentials as the Russian invasion of Ukraine dominates national headlines: He is offering a briefing on the Ukraine situation in Easton on Saturday afternoon.

— Bennett Leckrone