2021 | Politics

Gubernatorial race full of Montgomery County connections

Plus: Charkoudian, Lopez start re-election campaigns; Jawando endorses Moore for governor

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With two more people declaring their campaigns for governor this week, the candidate pool with ties to Montgomery County keeps growing.

Jon Baron, a former nonprofit executive who has worked under three presidential administrations, and Tom Perez, a former U.S. secretary of labor, are the two latest Montgomery County residents to enter the Democratic primary for governor.

Baron, who lives in Bethesda, announced his candidacy on Monday. He was most recently vice president of evidence-based policy at Arnold Ventures, a philanthropic organization that donates money to criminal justice, education, health care, and public finance matters based on research and data-informed solutions.

Perez, who lives in Takoma Park, announced his candidacy on Wednesday.

He was secretary of labor for President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2017 and was chair of the Democratic National Committee from February 2017 to January 2021. He also was a Montgomery County councilman from 2002 to 2006.

Other Democratic candidates who are from or live in Montgomery County:

  • Wes Moore, a former nonprofit executive, Rhodes Scholar and Army veteran. He was born in Takoma Park before moving to Baltimore at a young age
  • Peter Franchot, the state’s comptroller for more than a decade. Before that, he was a state delegate representing Montgomery County for 20 years. He lives in Takoma Park.
  • Doug Gansler, a former Maryland attorney general for eight years and former Montgomery state’s attorney for eight years. He lives in Bethesda.
  • Ashwani Jain, who served under former President Barack Obama in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and ran for an at-large County Council seat in 2018. He lives in Potomac.
  • John King Jr., a former secretary of education under Obama and current education nonprofit leader. He lives in Silver Spring.
  • Mike Rosenbaum, who heads a Baltimore-based recruiting and workforce technology company. He was born in Montgomery County and has lived in Baltimore for more than two decades.

The ninth Democratic who has committed to run is former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III.

On the Republican side, Robin Ficker, an activist and former state delegate, who lives in Boyds, and Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who lives in Frederick County, have declared their candidacy.

Charkoudian, Lopez start re-election campaigns

Del. Lorig Charkoudian (D-Takoma Park), who was elected to the House of Delegates in 2018, held a re-election kickoff event Wednesday evening.

Several fellow Montgomery delegation members joined her at the event, along with U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

“So proud of the work we have done & look forward to getting to all that is left,” Charkoudian, who represents District 20, wrote in a tweet. “Join us to build a More Just & Inclusive MD!”

In District 39, Del. Lesley Lopez (D-Germantown), also is seeking a second term.

She announced her plans in an email to supporters on Wednesday and wrote that she is holding a virtual kickoff fundraising event on July 15.

One of her guests will be U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac).

Jawando endorses Moore for governor

Will Jawando became the first Montgomery County Council member to endorse a candidate for governor, picking Wes Moore, a former nonprofit CEO and Army veteran.

Jawando and Moore toured businesses in Silver Spring on Wednesday. Moore announced his candidacy for governor this month.

“He has the lived & professional experience to help us tackle wealth inequality and expand opportunities for every Maryland resident,” Jawando wrote in a tweet endorsing Moore. 

Moore is the former CEO of Robin Hood, a nonprofit fighting poverty across the United States.

He is one of nine Democrats who have declared they are running for the state’s top office.

Steve Bohnel can be reached at steve.bohnel@bethesdamagazine.com