Baron Picks Communications Professional to Run for Lt. Governor
Jon Baron, the former nonprofit executive and political novice making a longshot bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, announced Friday that Natalie Williams, a former TV journalist and communications professional from Prince George’s County, will be his running mate.
Williams, 50, is currently senior director of communications and public affairs for the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education, and she’s held several positions in politics, policy and civic life in Maryland and Washington, D.C., and at the national level.
“She’s had an incredible career in public service — from her executive roles in leading nonprofit organizations to her launch of a foundation to increase breast cancer awareness and her extensive work in government and local news,” Baron said in a statement. “She will make a terrific partner on the campaign trail and an excellent lieutenant governor. I can’t wait for the voters of Maryland to get to know her better.”
Baron becomes the ninth of the 10 Democratic candidates for governor to select a running mate, and like Baron, most have opted to run with women of color. Of the declared candidates, only former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman — the only woman in the Democratic field — has yet to pick a candidate for lieutenant governor.
Williams’ prior jobs include being vice president of advancement at Maryland University of Integrative Health and vice president of public affairs at United Medical Center.
When she lived in Washington, D.C., she was elected president of the Ward Eight Democratic Party and chair of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 8A, in the historic Anacostia community. She also served as a top aide to two members of the District of Columbia City Council. Williams began her career as a journalist, working 12 years in local TV news and earning two Emmy nominations.
“My whole career has been about communicating with people — about health care, about education, about the politics and policies that affect their everyday lives,” Williams said. “Communication is at the core of public service and good government, and I’m humbled by the opportunity to bring my years of experience to the campaign trail and to Annapolis.”
Williams was born at Andrews Air Force Base in Camp Springs, where her father was stationed, and currently lives in Bowie. She has a 20-year-old daughter, Nyela Williams, who is a junior at the University of Maryland College Park.
Williams is a breast cancer survivor and is the founder of the Natalie Williams Breast Care Foundation, which aims to educate women of color about the importance of getting breast cancer screenings.
Baron and Williams plan to formally file for governor and lieutenant governor in the coming days, though the filing deadline has been pushed back to April 15 and the primary date was changed this week to July 19.
Baron, who lives in Bethesda and grew up there, is a policy expert and former federal official who founded the nonprofit Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy and is a former vice president of the Arnold Foundation. On the campaign trail, he has vowed to shake up state government and pursue less-heralded policies that have worked in other states and at the local level.
In a large field that includes current and former statewide elected officials, former county executives, former members of President Obama’s cabinet and a nationally-known best-selling author, Baron lags in name recognition. But Baron’s campaign on Friday touted the ticket as “one of the best-funded campaigns in the race — with the resources to share their bold, proven-effective plans with millions of Marylanders across the state.”
Baron reported $1,733,095 in his campaign account as of Jan. 12, after loaning the campaign $1.7 million two days earlier. He reported raising $420,478 in campaign contributions last year, including $190,000 of his own money. Williams has opened a campaign account of her own, though there has been no reported activity so far.
“This is a wide-open race, and our message is resonating with voters all across the state,” said Pablo Roa, the campaign manager. “We have the resources to get that message in front of millions of Marylanders over the next four months, and that’s exactly what Jon and Natalie will do. Jon and Natalie are eager to hit the campaign trail as a ticket, win the Democratic nomination in July, and bring a fundamentally new governing approach to Annapolis next year.”