Meet Your Next Lieutenant Governor

By Josh Kurtz

If you’re being charitable about the prospects of the nine Democrats who are running for governor in 2018 or thinking about it, one of 10 people – nine men and one woman, as of now – will be The Next Governor of Maryland.

But if you’re trying to game out who the next lieutenant governor is going to be, if Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) aren’t re-elected, well, there are almost infinite possibilities, right?

Maybe.

Certainly the list of potential LG’s is long. Gubernatorial candidates can pick just about anyone to run with them – or have to scramble and grovel to find someone willing to run with them. That does make the universe of possible running mates pretty big.

But as a practical matter, each Democratic candidate for governor has certain boxes he or she needs to check. Everybody, in a perfect world, is looking for gender, racial, regional and ideological balance.

Everybody is also looking for someone who could plausibly serve as governor. And everybody needs to persuade someone that he or she is viable enough to be worth the risk; some candidates for lieutenant governor give up good positions for a job that, so far, hasn’t proven to be a stepping stone to anything.

With the news this week that policy analyst Maya Rockeymoore is thinking of seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, it may no longer be an all-male field. But let’s face it:  the eight guys eyeing the Democratic starting gate – Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Rep. John Delaney, former Attorney General Doug Gansler, former NAACP President Ben Jealous, Baltimore County Kevin Kamenetz, state Sen. Rich Madaleno, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and attorney Jim Shea – have got to be thinking pretty seriously about selecting a woman as their running mate.

Which doesn’t mean some all-male tickets couldn’t be viable or even formidable, in the primary or the general election. One example might be a pairing of Delaney – who currently isn’t running for governor – at the top of the ticket, and Baker, who currently is, as No. 2.

But in most cases, as they try to appeal to a Democratic primary electorate still mourning the defeat of Hillary Clinton and painfully aware that there are no women in the state’s congressional delegation, we can expect the men seeking the nomination to turn first to women for running mates. Each guy has his own set of imperatives when looking for someone to run with (for example, political newbies like Ross and Shea might want a seasoned government official to pair with). So the list of women who could possibly be viable contenders for LG include:

**Baltimore County Councilmember Vicki Almond (currently running for county executive)

**Susan Burke, attorney from Baltimore city

**Former Rep. Donna Edwards (currently contemplating a bid for Prince George’s County executive)

**Frederick County Councilmember Jessica Fitzwater

**Del. Shelly Hettleman of Baltimore County

**Hyattsville Mayor Candace Hollingsworth

**Del. Adrienne Jones of Baltimore County

**Sen. Cheryl Kagan of Montgomery County

**Sen. Susan Lee of Montgomery County

**Prince George’s County Councilmember Mary Lehman

**Del. Brooke Lierman of Baltimore city

**Del. Aruna Miller of Montgomery County (if she isn’t running for Congress, which she is gearing up to do)

**Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro

**Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk of Prince George’s County

**Maya Rockeymoore

**Baltimore city Councilmember Shannon Sneed

**Del. Mary Washington of Baltimore city

**Former Howard County Councilmember Courtney Watson

**Baltimore city Health Commissioner Leana Wen

Democratic men who could make viable contenders for lieutenant governor include: Howard County Councilmember Calvin Ball, who is currently running for county executive but might entertain an offer to be No. 2 with a strong gubernatorial candidate; Salisbury Mayor Jake Day; state Sen. Brian Feldman of Montgomery County – and any of the current candidates for governor who start to feel shaky about their prospects.

One comment

  • I see one or two main problems for many (not all) of the women on this list. A few (who I won’t identify) may have a name recognition problem that might not add much to the ticket. Many of the others currently hold an elected position of some power that they’d be giving up for a ceremonial waiting post position having absolutely no power. I’m mainly referring to the State Senators and Delegates here, but even County Council members have some power. Unless they are ready for retirement, I don’t know why they’d want to go for the LG position. There are rumors, some cited in the article, that some of these women have other “step up” offices in mind. I also thought that Delegate Hettleman was going to primary State Senator Zirkin in LD11, but maybe I heard it wrong. Prince George’s Delegate Pena-Melnyk ran for Congress last time, which may indicate an interest in stepping up to some other office this time. We’ll see about that.
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