Skip to main content
Government & Politics

Md. political power couples: Forget Taylor and Travis, we’ve got…

Wes Moore looks at his wife, Dawn Flythe Moore, as they walk up Main Street in Annapolis toward the State House before Moore’s swearing-in as Maryland’s first Black governor. Their daughter, Mia, is to Moore’s left. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Enough with Taylor and Travis already!

The Super Bowl is over! The Biden bots won. Let those celebrity lovebirds enjoy a little peace.

And let’s instead shine the light on…those celebrity lovebirds in Maryland!

OK, no one here is going to be on national TV or on the cover of Time magazine or in scandal sheets, probably. But attention must be paid.

There are power couples all over this state. The people on our annual list of Maryland power couples are generally celebrities in the small, odd-ball world of Maryland politics. Every Valentine’s Day, we honor them in Maryland Matters.

As usual, our power couples list leans heavily toward those who spend most of their time in Annapolis, working in or around state government and politics. But we try to look beyond the borders of State Circle when we can.

So here we go. First, the leaders of the pack:

Wes Moore and Dawn Flythe Moore: First couples in Maryland are all but guaranteed to make this list. But more than any other we can think of, this is a true political partnership. Gov. Moore is still growing into the job, even as he becomes a national political rising star. The first lady keeps a relatively low profile a lot of the time. But she was an integral part of his political rise and remains one of his key advisers and ambassadors to the state’s political community.

Aruna Miller, the lieutenant governor, and David Miller, the state’s second second gentleman: They are civil engineers who met and fell in love in college. And he remains her top adviser and political protector.

Helene Grady and Matthew Gallagher: Grady is the state budget secretary, first among equals in the governor’s cabinet, the one whose number-crunching helps Moore set his broader agenda. Gallagher is the head of the Goldseker Foundation in Baltimore and former chief of staff to ex-Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). He is also a civic leader par excellence with a wealth of contacts and political and policy chops.

U.S. Rep. Glenn Ivey (D) and Prince George’s County Councilmember Jolene Ivey (D): There are a few couples in this state where both halves are elected officials, but these two are the most enduring and, arguably, the most endearing. And of course, they get extra points because one of their five sons is an elected official, too — Del. Julian Ivey (D-Prince George’s). And, keeping the spirit of romance going, he just got married!

Bob Ehrlich and Kendel Ehrlich: Sure, former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is getting tons of attention again now that he’s running for U.S. Senate (and that’s just the way he likes it), but the Ehrlichs are a far bigger presence in everyday Maryland Republican circles than Hogan, with strong, important ties to Trump World. The days may have passed when they are discussed as possible candidates for political office again, but they could land prominent roles in the Trump administration if there is another one.

U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (R-1st) and Nicole Bues Harris, chair of the Maryland Republican Party: For better or worse, it’s the Harris wing that controls the state GOP these days, and these two are at the apex.

Martin O’Malley and Katie Curran O’Malley: He’s back in the game as leader of the Social Security Administration — an important if thankless job if ever there was one, a job that suits his inner government technocrat. And after retiring from the bench and running unsuccessfully for attorney general, she’ll have an elevated profile in her new role as executive director of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland.

Our next category, elected officials whose mates are also elected officials. Forget pillow talk — there’s also, inevitably, plenty of shop talk:

State Sen. Jack Bailey (R-St. Mary’s) and Karin Bailey, chair of the St. Mary’s County Board of Education and chair of the St. Mary’s County Property Tax Assessment Board.

State Sen. Ron Watson (D-Prince George’s) and Prince George’s County Councilmember Ingrid Watson (D).

State Sen. Sarah K. Elfreth (D-Anne Arundel) and Baltimore City Councilmember Eric Costello (D). Elfreth is, of course, also running for Congress this year. Costello is on the ballot seeking reelection. Their Valentine’s Day, presumably, will be May 15, the day the primaries are over.

All rise! Here are some judges with powerful partners:

Court of Special Appeals Judge Laura Ripken and baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr.

Baltimore County District Court Judge Michael Siri and Michelle Daugherty Siri, executive director of the Maryland Legal Services Corporation.

Prince George’s County Magistrate Anita Turner and Todd Turner, a former Prince George’s County Council member and executive director of the Prince George’s County Office of Ethics & Accountability.

Tiffany Anderson, a Prince George’s County Circuit Court judge, and Kevin Anderson, secretary of Commerce in the Moore administration.

State House dome framed by a heart-shaped ornamental fence

Love is in the air in and around Annapolis. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

More from the Moore administration and their prominent partners, including some couples whose members both have ties to the administration:

Fagan Harris, Moore’s chief of staff, and Meryam Bouadjemi, a documentary filmmaker who is also a a senior adviser to the governor and chair of the new Maryland Entertainment Council.

Eric Luedtke, the chief legislative affairs officer, and Montgomery County Councilmember Dawn Luedtke (D).

Appointments Secretary Tisha Edwards and Democratic operative Lamont Riley.

Saif Ratul, a deputy legislative officer in the administration, and Baltimore City Councilmember Phylicia Porter (D).

Natural Resources Secretary Josh Kurtz and Samantha Zwerling, managing director of political and legislative affairs at the Maryland State Education Association.

Dewon Lawrence, former Moore campaign operative who now does performance management for the Maryland Department of the Environment, and Candace Dodson-Reed, vice president of government relations and community affairs at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Kristin Riggin Fleckenstein, the deputy secretary at the Maryland Department of Planning, and Tom Fleckenstein, powerbroker Anne Arundel County lawyer.

Arinze Ifekauche, deputy director of communications and legislative affairs at the Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, and Victims’ Services, and Delora Sanchez Ifekauche, a principal at Cornerstone Government Affairs and director of the firm’s Annapolis office.

Press Secretary Carter Elliot IV and Morgan Smith, senior policy analyst at the Maryland Cannabis Administration.

More powers in state government agencies not directly connected to the Moore administration:

Vicki Gruber, head of the Department of Legislative Services, and Tom Lewis, development ombudsman for Montgomery County government.

Kumar Barve, veteran legislator now serving on the Maryland Public Service Commission, and Maureen Quinn, chair of the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Kathleen Evans, a member of the workers’ compensation commission, and Gerard Evans, the uber lobbyist.

Jeremy Baker, chief of staff to House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County), and Lindsey Reynolds, a senior partner at GQR, a national Democratic polling firm.

Ross Seidman, senior adviser to Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), and Jamie Sexton, director of legislative and regulatory policy at the Maryland Insurance Administration.

David Smulski, a senior policy analyst with the Department of Legislative Services, and Robyn Elliott, partner in the lobbying firm Public Policy Partners.

Julianne Fiastro, a senior adviser to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming agency, and John Fiastro, a former Republican operative and State House lobbyist.

Adam Abadir, director of strategic communications for the Maryland comptroller’s office, and Marly Cardona Moz, communications director for the Baltimore City Department of Transportation.

Multiple politicians have powerful significant others. Here are some of these couples, in alphabetical order:

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball (D) and Shani Ball, director of strategy and program development at the University of Maryland Medical System.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Ben Barnes (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel) and Caitlin McDonough, an attorney and lobbyist with the firm Harris Jones & Malone.

Del. Jessica Feldmark (D-Howard) and Joshua Feldmark, a senior vice president for CI Renewables, a renewable energy company with a major presence in the Mid-Atlantic.

Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City) and Lea Ferguson, chief operating officer at the Baltimore Civic Fund.

Senate Budget and Taxation Committee Chair Guy Guzzone (D-Howard) and Susan Lawrence, vice chancellor for government relations at the University System of Maryland.

Wicomico County Councilmember Josh Hastings (D) and Alyssa Hastings, Eastern Shore director for U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D).

Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D) and Michele Lawrence Jawando, senior vice president of the Omidyar Network.

Del. Anne Kaiser (D-Montgomery) and Nancy Lineman, associate general counsel at WSSC Water and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland.

U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D) and Tiffany McMillan Mfume, associate vice provost for student success and retention initiatives at Johns Hopkins University.

Frederick City Alderwoman Katie Nash, who’s also a registered Annapolis lobbyist, and Josh Bokee, a former alderman and founder of the nonprofit Connect for Broadband, now running for a seat on the Frederick County Board of Education.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. (D) and Marisa Olszewski, environmental policy manager for the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

Sen. James Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s), who was ambassador to Romania in the Clinton administration, and Sheilah Kast, host of WYPR’s “On the Record.”

Del. Emily Shetty (D-Montgomery) and Ash Shetty, chief procurement officer for the Montgomery County government.

Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair Will Smith (D-Montgomery) and registered lobbyist Camille Fesche.

Prince George’s County Board of Education member Shayla Adams-Stafford and Progressive Maryland Executive Director Larry Stafford.

We’ve already spotlighted some registered lobbyists in the categories above. But let’s face it: Politicians come and go, but lobbyists are forever — and some of the most powerful people in Annapolis. And some lobbyists intermarry. Here are a few, in alphabetical order:

Erin Appel, vice president of external affairs at UnitedHealth Group, and Travis Martz, general counsel to the Maryland Auto Dealers Association.

Joe Bryce of the firm Manis Canning & Associates and a member of the Maryland Stadium Authority board, and Kristen Jones Bryce, senior vice president and chief external affairs officer of the University of Maryland Medical System.

Erin Favazza, director of state government affairs at University of Maryland Global Campus, and John Favazza of the lobbying firm Manis Caning & Associates.

Hannah Garagiola and Rob Garagiola, partners in life and the machers at Compass Advocacy, which Hannah Garagiola heads.

Lisa Harris Jones and Sean Malone, partners in life and the names behind the Baltimore-Annapolis firm Harris Jones & Malone.

Maryland Chamber of Commerce President Mary Kane and John Kane, former state GOP chair now lobbying with his own firm, Aton Strategies LLC.

More lobbyists and their noteworthy mates, alphabetically:

Aaron Greenfield, lawyer and State House lobbyist, and Adrea Turner, chief of staff of the Urban Institute.

Pam Kasemeyer of the firm Schwartz, Metz, Wise & Kauffman, and her husband Ed Kasemeyer. The latter is no longer in the state Senate, but he still chairs the state’s Interagency Commission on School Construction and the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission, among other civic activities. This year he is serving as chair of the annual Society of Senates Past dinner.

Leonard Lucchi, a lawyer and lobbyist with O’Malley, Miles, Nylen & Gilmore, and Brenda Lucchi, director of Italian-American Democrats.

Isaac Meyer, senior manager at EDP Renewables, where he handles government relations, and Ashley Meyer, grants coordinator for the Baltimore County government.

J.R. Reith, an Annapolis lobbyist, and Dee Anna Sobczak, CEO and co-founder of Think Big, a provider of rural broadband in the state.

And here are several other power couples, from a range of mostly-political categories, in alphabetical order:

Bill Cole, a partner at the politically powerful development firm Margrave Strategies, and Michelle Cole, a state administrative law judge.

Jessica Cook, a field representative for U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) and Chuck Cook, chief legislative officer for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

Diane Croghan, vice president of community engagement and chief of staff at the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center, and Brady Walker, head of government affairs and market strategy for Ørsted, a wind energy company.

Karen Polet Doory, a Baltimore-based fundraising and political consultant, and Brian Doory, who is wearing a few different hats with Annapolis-based Scarlet Oak Strategies and Firehouse Strategies, a Washington, D.C., firm.

Dirk Haire, the former state Republican chair, and former Anne Arundel Councilmember Jessica Haire (R). Neither is particularly active in state politics right now, but we don’t expect that to last long. Dirk Haire is running to be a delegate for former President Trump at the Republican National Convention.

Beth Levine, a partner at KO Public Affairs in Baltimore, and Brian Levine, vice president of government relations at the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

Rich Madaleno, the chief administrative officer of Montgomery County, and Mark Hodge, chief operating officer at the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services.

Sonia Mora, Montgomery County assistant chief administrative officer, and Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA.

Major Riddick, who runs a lobbying and business and consulting firm and a fast food concessions business at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, and Manervia Riddick, a business consultant who serves on the Maryland Stadium Authority board.

Maria Harris Tildon, the vice president of state and local affairs for Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Medicine, and Chuck Tildon, vice president of external affairs at the University of Maryland Medical System — a clear sign that the state’s two leading hospital systems can indeed get along.

Christopher Uhl, special adviser to the Baltimore County executive, and Andre Cawley, a graphic designer and consultant who does work for Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott (D). The two co-own Sweet Spot, the floating gay dance party in Baltimore.

Krish Vignarajah, CEO of the Baltimore-based Global Refuge, an immigrants’ services organization, and Colin O’Mara, president and CEO at the National Wildlife Federation.

If we missed some important personages on this, we apologize. Let us know and we’ll make sure to include them next year. Happy Valentine’s Day to one and all!


Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our website. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected].

To republish, copy the following text and paste it into your HTML editor.


Creative Commons License AttributionCreative Commons Attribution
Md. political power couples: Forget Taylor and Travis, we’ve got…