Jaymi Sterling, a former deputy state’s attorney in St. Mary’s County, announced Wednesday that she is challenging her ex-boss, six-term State’s Attorney Richard D. Fritz, in the upcoming Republican primary.
Sterling, who has been a prosecutor for 14 years, resigned from the St. Mary’s state’s attorney’s office amid controversy in September 2020. She said at the time that she had been demoted after uncovering “questionable financial and personnel practices” in the office. Without specifically addressing her allegations, Sterling uses the theme of integrity in a 30-second video that promotes her candidacy.
“Integrity. It’s what guides me throughout my career,” she says in the ad, directly addressing the camera. “And it’s why I’m running for state’s attorney in St. Mary’s County.”
Sterling goes on to list some of her legal credentials — she’s currently prosecuting violent crimes and opioid drug cases for the Anne Arundel County state’s attorney’s office — but adds, “Qualifications are not enough. It’s the qualities you bring to the job that matters. We deserve a state’s attorney who demands accountability, and does it with integrity.”
Nowhere in the ad — or on her campaign website — does Sterling mention that she is the step-daughter of Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R).
Sterling has used her formidable communications skills on Hogan’s behalf before. She cut a TV spot in 2014, defending him against Democratic attacks that he’d restrict abortion rights and women’s access to birth control. “These ads attacking him as anti-woman are just wrong,” she said then.
Sterling starred in a similarly themed ad in 2018, along with her baby daughter, Nora, touting bills signed by Hogan that were championed by women’s groups: a bill to strengthen Maryland’s pay-equity laws, and another that removes co-payments for birth control. Currently, Sterling is a member of the Asian-American Hate Crimes Task Force that Hogan assembled last year.
Fritz, who was first elected in 1998, did not respond to an email Wednesday seeking comment about Sterling’s candidacy. On his campaign website, he notes that St. Mary’s Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron (R) is retiring after 16 years on the job, and urges voters to retain one seasoned member of the courthouse team.
“The experience I have gained in over 36 years as a prosecuting attorney speaks volumes for the EXPERIENCE necessary to be the chief law enforcement officer in our county, and in charge of eleven experienced trial attorneys,” he writes. “Having prosecuted more than 60 murder case[s], well over 350 jury trials and well over 1,000 court trials, experience must remain an important factor in your mind as you cast your vote.”
Eight Dem candidates for governor agree: Mizeur belongs in Congress
Eight of the Democratic gubernatorial candidates endorsed former state Del. Heather R. Mizeur’s 1st Congressional District bid on Wednesday.
Democratic contenders Rushern L. Baker III, Jon Baron, Douglas F. Gansler, Ashwani K. Jain, John B. King Jr., Wes Moore, Laura E. Neuman and Tom Perez all endorsed Mizeur’s bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Andrew P. Harris, Maryland’s lone congressional Republican, according to a news release from Mizeur’s campaign.
“I’m so honored that these fantastic candidates for Governor have taken the rare step of banding together to jointly endorse our grassroots campaign for Congress,” Mizeur, who was a Democratic candidate for governor in 2014, said in a statement. “Their support speaks to our campaign’s unique ability to unite people and build a broad coalition to defeat one of the most radical members of Congress. With this endorsement, First District voters will know that if they support any of these eight candidates, their choice for Governor has put their faith in me to win this congressional election and represent our district with honor, dignity and compassion.”
Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot was missing from the list of Democratic gubernatorial contenders who endorsed Mizeur. In a statement provided to Maryland Matters, Franchot campaign spokeswoman Jordan Bellamy said, “Comptroller Franchot has known Delegate Mizeur for many years and has the highest respect for her record of public service. Given the number of candidates in this competitive primary race, the Comptroller has chosen to remain neutral. Comptroller Franchot — who won all but one county in the First Congressional District during the 2018 General Election — looks forward to working closely with the Democratic nominee to ensure Andy Harris doesn’t return to Washington next year.”
Mizeur reported raising $1.32 million in 2021, a figure her campaign said was a record for the district in a non-election year. She has also been endorsed by several Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation, as well as former 1st District Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, a Republican whom Harris unseated in the 2008 primary.
R. David Harden, a foreign policy strategist, is also seeking the Democratic nomination to run against Harris. Harden on Wednesday questioned how the Democratic gubernatorial candidates’ endorsement would play out with voters in the largely rural district, given that none of them is from there.
Former Olszewski aide joins Perez campaign
Tom Perez’s gubernatorial campaign has a new communications director.
Sean Naron, who spent four years as chief spokesman for Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr. (D), joined the campaign earlier this week. His last day with the county was Friday.
Naron’s resume includes stints with the late Kevin Kamenetz (D), a former Baltimore County executive who died unexpectedly during his 2018 bid for governor; former Baltimore Health Commissioner and Planned Parenthood official Dr. Lena Wen; and former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
“I’ve always worked with good people who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get the work done, and that’s who Tom is,” Naron said. “There’s no on-the-job training required here.”
Perez and his running mate, former Baltimore City Councilmember Shannon Sneed, operate out of a Takoma Park headquarters not far from the former Obama administration labor secretary’s home.
Naron will be reporting to another Sean — Sean Downey, Perez’s new campaign manager. A veteran Democratic strategist, Downey worked as deputy national political director for New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s presidential campaign, and has also worked on Capitol Hill and held prominent political positions in New England and New Jersey. He has also been a partner at Hilltop Public Solutions, a Democratic consulting firm.
Perez’s previous campaign manager, Jessica Semachko, remains with the campaign as a senior adviser.
Speaking of Olszewski, he’s endorsing state Del. Patrick G. Young Jr. (D) in an open seat race for Baltimore County Council.
“I’m proud to endorse my good friend Pat Young in his bid for the County Council,” Olszewski said in a statement this week. “As a father, veteran, and state legislator, he has been a consistent leader in making Baltimore County safer, stronger and more inclusive.”
Olszewski is going to headline a fundraiser for Young on March 14 at a Catonsville home. That same night, Olszewski has a fundraiser scheduled for Red Red Wine Bar in Annapolis.
Young, who has served two terms in the House of Delegates, faces a Democratic primary race against Paul Dongarra, who owns a catering business in Catonsville.
Bruce DePuyt contributed to this report.