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Election 2022 Government & Politics

Political Notes: Brown Snags AFSCME Backing, MPT Debate Announced, New Role for Baker Campaign Chief, and More

U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D) accepted the endorsement of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 3 for his campaign for attorney general at an event in Baltimore on Wednesday. Campaign photo.

Maryland’s largest state employee union endorsed Rep. Anthony Brown (D) for attorney general on Wednesday.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 3, which represents more than 30,000 state government and public higher education workers, made the announcement in Baltimore.

“We have chosen a candidate for attorney general that we believe will stick up for working people — not just people that work in the public sector, but people that work in the private sector as factories, construction sites, all over the state of Maryland — someone that believes in public service, someone that has dedicated their life to public service,” Patrick Moran, president of the union, said Wednesday.

The union said they reached the endorsement decision after an interview process with its executive board.

The other Democratic candidate for attorney general is retired Baltimore City District Court Judge Katie Curran O’Malley. James F. Shalleck, an attorney and Republican activist in Montgomery County, and former Anne Arundel County Councilmember Michael Anthony Peroutka are the Republican candidates.

Also appearing at Wednesday’s endorsement event was Del. Stephanie Smith (D), chair of the Baltimore City House delegation to the General Assembly. Smith, who has endorsed Brown, noted that Maryland’s population has grown more diverse, and she trusts Brown to “lead with all of us in mind, but also have a staff that represents our state as well.”

In accepting the endorsement, Brown said he would press for more progressive policies if elected as the state’s top legal officer.

“Sure, we’ve made progress over the years, but too many barriers exist for too many Marylanders. We see it in housing and health care. We see it in education, in the environment. We see it in the workplace — the public sector and the private sector. We see it in policing and in the criminal justice system,” Brown said. “I’m running for attorney general to dismantle those barriers, to make government work again, and to fight for the changes that protect every community.”

Later in the day, Brown’s campaign announced another endorsement, this one from NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland.

“I’m proud to stand with them in the fight to protect abortion and reproductive rights,” Brown tweeted in response to the endorsement. “As AG, I’ll defend women’s access to reproductive healthcare and ensure that MD is ready to accept any individuals seeking care.”

Pro-Choice Maryland, which was formerly affiliated with NARAL, also announced endorsements of Democratic gubernatorial candidate John King and his running mate, Michelle Siri, as well as Del. Brooke E. Lierman (D-Baltimore City) for comptroller.

Meanwhile, O’Malley picked up a nice endorsement this week from The Washington Post editorial board. While the editorial praised Brown’s political career, it concluded: “Ms. O’Malley, having been in judicial trenches, would bring to the role a broader, fresher, people-oriented view.”

To see a list of prior endorsements in the Democratic attorney general primary, click here.

Democratic candidates to debate on MPT Monday; GOP debate is TBD

In what has the potential to be a pivotal moment in the race to become the state’s next governor, Maryland Public Television has announced it will host a debate featuring eight of the 10 Democrats running in the July 19 primary.

The hour-long encounter will be taped at MPT’s studios in Owings Mills next Monday afternoon; it will air that evening at 7 p.m. on public television and on WBAL-TV and WBAL-AM.

In a news release, MPT said it has received confirmations from former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III, former nonprofit leader Jon Baron, Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, former state Attorney General Doug Gansler, former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, former U.S. Education Secretary John King, former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

Retired college lecturer Jerome Segal and frequent candidate Ralph Jaffe were apparently not invited.

Although there is a lack of independent polling in the upcoming primaries, the MPT debate looms large every cycle due to the station’s reach.

The campaign-funded polls that have been become public all show that large swaths of the electorate are undecided. Voters who have requested a mail-in ballot will begin receiving them in the coming days. Early voting will occur from July 7 until July 14.

The four-person race for the Republican nomination is no less unsettled than the Democratic race, but MPT — like other debate sponsors — has apparently had trouble getting the leading candidates to commit.

Mike Demkiw, a spokesman for former state Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, told Maryland Matters last month that she will not debate her main rival, Del. Dan Cox (R-Frederick).

“Kelly is not going to share a debate stage and give a platform” to Cox’s views, Demkiw said.

An MPT spokesman said the station is still working on a GOP debate. “We’re still trying to put something together with the Republican gubernatorial candidates,” said spokesman Tom Williams. “Fortunately, there’s still some time until the primary election in July.”

Longtime MPT anchor Jeff Salkin will serve as moderator of the Democratic forum. Questions will come from a panel that includes Deborah Weiner, a news anchor at WBAL-TV; radio talk show host Clarence M. Mitchell IV; and Alexis Taylor, news editor for the AFRO-American newspapers.

Baker campaign manager stepping down

Andrew Mallinoff said on Wednesday he will step down as manager of Baker’s gubernatorial campaign later this week.

In an interview, Mallinoff said he will transition from campaign manager to senior adviser. With the July 19 primary now less than seven weeks away, he said the time was right to for him to assume “a more 30,000 foot view and not [be] in the grind so much day to day.”

“I’m still Team Baker,” he said. “I’m not jumping ship completely — just stepping into more of an advisory role.”

Baker’s son, Rush Baker IV, will take over day-to-day operations of the campaign, Mallinoff said.

Mallinoff, who was also Baker’s campaign manager in 2018, launched a career as a music producer during the pandemic. His ability to balance both jobs faltered as the rigors of the campaign increased, he said. “It’s becoming harder and harder to give my all to both at the same time.”

Although he insisted that he is leaving with candidate’s blessing, the departure of a campaign manager less than two months from Election Day is rarely a good sign. Baker finished second to Ben Jealous in the 2018 gubernatorial primary, a disappointing ten points behind the eventual nominee.

The Baker campaign reported in mid-May that it had just $15,440 remaining in its account. Baker is using the state’s public financing system and is eligible for an additional $34,854 in public funds based on the money he’s raised recently. But that won’t go far in a race that has two expensive media markets.

Mallinoff said money was not a factor in his decision.

New director at Bureau of Revenue Estimates

In his official capacity, rather than in campaign mode, Franchot announced Wednesday that he has hired Robert J. Rehrmann as director of the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, which makes economic forecasts and analyzes budgets for the comptroller’s office and other state leaders.

Rehrmann assumes the role from acting director David Farkas, who has served in the position since Andrew Schaufele’s promotion to deputy comptroller in January. Farkas returns to his previous job as the Bureau’s deputy director.

Rehrmann previously served as principal policy analyst for the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, where he worked for 19 years, rising from his first role as a fiscal note analyst. His areas of expertise with DLS included personal income, corporate income, tobacco, estate and transportation taxes. Over the years, he worked regularly with Bureau of Revenue Estimate staff to review and develop fiscal notes for tax policies and legislation.

Prior to his tenure with the Department of Legislative Services, Rehrmann spent several years in the private finance sector.

The Adams family

Del. Chris Adams (R), who is seeking a third term in the Eastern Shore’s District 37B, announced Wednesday that he has teamed up in the GOP primary with Thomas Hutchinson, a small businessman making his first run for public office.

The pair described themselves as common sense conservatives who represent a geographical balance in the four-county district: Adams lives in Wicomico County and Hutchinson is in Dorchester County, where he owns a home improvement company.

“I have known Tom throughout my tenure in the House of Delegates. He is a strong community leader, a hard-working small business owner, and very respected throughout the community,” said Adams, who owns a floor and carpeting store in Salisbury. “I have found very few business owners like myself and Tom serving in Annapolis. Legislators with a business background provide an essential service to voters by delivering a unique perspective to policymaking.”

Under current state law, only one delegate in District 37B can be elected per county.

Wicomico County Councilmember Nicole Acle is also seeking the seat in the Republican primary, as is Ron James, the mayor of the Dorchester County town of Galestown (population 130). Currently the district is represented by Adams and Del. Johnny Mautz, who is challenging state Sen. Adelaide Eckardt in the Republican primary.

Hutchinson said teaming with Adams “makes perfect sense,” but added that he was glad to campaign on his own initially, “to ensure that the voters are accepting me based upon my own beliefs and values.”