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Political notes: Moore does the D.C. policy circuit, Trone hires a campaign manager, new gig for ex-LG, and more

Gov. Wes Moore (D) spoke at an Axios event in D.C. on Wednesday morning. Governor’s office Twitter photo.

Gov. Wes Moore (D) hit the Washington, D.C., policy circuit Wednesday morning, rubbing shoulders with a national media personality to talk workforce development, then traveling five blocks to discuss climate change with corporate executives and government officials.

At both stops, Moore was very much on-message and on-brand as a forward-looking, action-minded policy wonk, preaching the importance of partnerships and strategic thinking at a moment when the state is hoping to take advantage of incoming federal largesse.

During an early-morning appearance with Axios co-founder and columnist Mike Allen, Moore discussed the shift toward skills-based (rather than degree-contingent) hiring.

Moore said that he is interested in looking at how state government and education policies work together to ensure that Marylanders are prepared for the workforce now and into the future. And he said policies should make certain that “arbitrary and frankly, inhumane, barriers” to employment should be lifted.

“Everything that we’re hoping to get done as a state is going to revolve around economics,” Moore said, repeating his oft-used line that his “north stars” for policy are “work, wages and wealth.”

After the event, a spokesperson for the governor said a program implemented by former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to remove the degree requirement for qualified applicants to thousands of state jobs remains in place.

Several speakers at the event underscored that such policies should be bipartisan efforts. Moore also touted his plans to create a service year option for graduating high school seniors in Maryland.

Asked whether he supported using taxpayer dollars for a new Washington Commanders football stadium, Moore responded that he supports public-private partnerships, but would not agree to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a stadium project.

“This cannot be done exclusively on the public dime,” Moore said.

He welcomed the pending sale of the team to a new investment group, which he said is interested in investing in the community as well as the team.

“I don’t only care about what happens on the field. I care about what happens outside the stadium,” Moore said.

The state is planning a $400 million investment in the Blue Line Corridor immediately around the current Commanders stadium, regardless of whether the team decides to remain in Prince George’s County.

Moore also shared optimism for another project hat could be headed to Prince George’s:  a new headquarters for the FBI.

“I hope the decision to bring it to Maryland is just weeks away,” he said.

The Axios event took place at The Showroom, an event space in downtown D.C.

Soon after, Moore took part in a “fireside chat without the fire” with former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) at the U.S. Climate Action Conference sponsored by The Climate Group, an international nonprofit that works with businesses and government leaders to address climate change (Ritter is the North American board president). That event took place at The Hamilton, a restaurant and performance venue.

“It’s great to see so many partners in this work, so many people I know and admire,” Moore said at the top of the conversation.

He also discussed, without prompting, why he decided to run for governor as a political neophyte.

“People ask, ‘What made you want to get into politics?’ And I said, ‘I didn’t. I wanted to be governor.'”

Moore then explained why, using the Climate Solutions Now legislation that the General Assembly passed in 2022 as a prime example. While the legislature passed the bill without support from former Gov. Larry Hogan (R), the Hogan administration didn’t do much to prepare to implement the new law. Moore said it’s now up to his administration to fund and promote policies that enable the climate law to have its full impact.

“The problem is, if you don’t have executive leadership, what happens is, if you pass a bill, all you have is a piece of paper,” Moore said. “The beauty is that, in the role of governor, with partnerships with many other sectors, you can actually accomplish things.”

Moore said he was excited that the Biden administration was fashioning rules for state and local governments to seek federal grants for climate and clean energy programs, because it enables states to rethink their policies and programs. Without federal guidance, he said, “it’s kind of like 5-year-old soccer. There are no plays. Everybody just runs to the ball.”

“I love the soccer metaphor,” Ritter said. “I’m going to steal it.”

Moore reiterated his assertion that climate policy must be developed through an equity lens. And he pushed back against conservative critics of “ESG” — private investments that are guided by environmental, social and governance considerations.

“It’s foolish, it’s political and it doesn’t have anything to do with facts on the ground,” he said. “…ESG is going to have a very important role in us being able to accomplish everything we want to accomplish. We cannot let politics get in the way of this.”

Moore is returning to D.C. on Thursday to delivery opening remarks at a breakfast for the African American Mayors’ Association and later at a U.S. Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Committee lunch.

Meet Trone’s campaign manager

As he prepares for a likely U.S. Senate run in 2024 — assuming Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) announces plans to retire, as expected — Rep. David Trone (D-6th) has hired Daniel Morrocco to be his campaign manager, Maryland Matters has learned.

Morrocco worked most recently as campaign manager to Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D), a wealthy businessman like Trone, who won a tough reelection battle last year. He has also worked for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and was a top strategist for then-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, the Democratic challenger to Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) in 2016.

Morrocco, a Rhode Island native, has also worked on Capitol Hill for Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

Trone isn’t the only potential 2024 Senate candidate in Maryland to hire a campaign strategist with national experience. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) recently hired David Chase, who most recently was campaign manager for then-Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) in his unsuccessful Senate bid last year.

Rutherford’s latest gig

Former Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) has joined the Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute at Towson University as its inaugural senior fellow.

“We are thrilled to welcome Governor Rutherford to our team as it continues to grow and expand through the nation,” said Erin Moran, executive director of the institute. “We know his strategic input will advance our mission of uplifting our region through investment in developing competent and ethically driven leaders.”

In addition to his two terms as lieutenant governor, Rutherford served as associate administrator for the U.S. General Services Administration, was assistant secretary for administration for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was secretary of the Maryland Department of General Services.

“I am excited to bring my years of experience to the Dr. Nancy Grasmick Leadership Institute to work with emerging leaders across the region to instill characteristics of ethics, dedication, execution, self-awareness and resilience,” Rutherford said. “Together, we will support leadership recruitment, development and retention that will bolster institutions and organizations for not only Maryland, but the nation.”

Rutherford is scheduled to share his insights during a webinar on May 18 called “Lessons in Leadership: Leading with Values in Divisive Times.”

Since leaving office, Rutherford has also been working as a partner at the Columbia-based law firm of Davis, Agnor, Rapaport & Skalny.

Ag council selects leaders

Matt Teffeau, a familiar figure on the Annapolis political and policy scene, was elected president of the Maryland Agriculture Council Board of Directors by his fellow board members last week. He replaces the outgoing leader, Karen Engel.

Teffeau has been a member of the council’s board since 2019, serving on numerous committees and playing an integral part in the group’s annual Taste of Maryland Agriculture event in Annapolis. In his day job, he is the manager of government affairs and economic development at Choptank Electric Cooperative on the Eastern Shore.

“I am very excited to continue the Maryland Agriculture Council’s mission of bringing our public officials and agriculture community together in a way of celebration and showcasing the valuable work our farmers do every day,” Teffeau said.

After graduating from Salisbury University, Teffeau became a legislative assistant for U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-1st), handling agricultural and natural resource issues. He later joined the Maryland Farm Bureau as assistant director of government relations, advocating for Maryland farmers in Annapolis before joining the Maryland Department of Agriculture during the Hogan administration. He went to work for Choptank in July 2019.

Rounding out the rest of the Ag Council board leadership: Faith Elliott Rossing, operator of an organic poultry farm in Henderson and former director of the Queen Anne County Department of Economic Development, Agriculture and Tourism, was elected vice president; Kayla Griffith of Lothian, a farmer and former University of Maryland researcher, will fill the role of secretary; Henry Brandt of Centreville, an investment advisor, was reelected as treasurer.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated to include the proper legislative history for the Climate Solutions Now Act.


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Political notes: Moore does the D.C. policy circuit, Trone hires a campaign manager, new gig for ex-LG, and more