Pettit migrates from Change Maryland to Craig campaign -- Gazette.Net


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Harford County Executive David Craig (R), expected to announce a run for governor early next month, has hired a new campaign staffer from the camp of a man once rumored to be considering a run of his own.

Jim Pettit has spent over a year working for the nonproft Change Maryland, helping the organization assemble reports critical of the economic policies of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D). Pettit said this week that he was joining Friends of David Craig — despite speculation that Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan also was weighing a bid for governor.

“I don’t know what Larry’s plans are,” Pettit said.

But Craig, who is planning a June 3 announcement, “is focused on what he can do next to serve the state of Maryland,” Pettit said, adding that Craig also has served as a mayor, city councilman and state legislator.

Hogan weighed a gubernatorial run in 2010 before former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) entered the race, and previously served as Ehrlich’s appointments secretary. Hogan now is focused on the Change Maryland operation and on keeping a watchful eye on the O’Malley-Brown administration for the remainder of its second term, said Steve Crim, spokesman for Change Maryland.

“I don’t think he’s given [the governor’s race] much thought,” Crim said.

Pettit said Hogan and Change Maryland were “uniquely positioned to play an influential role” in policy debate.

Republican Del. Ronald A. George (R-Dist. 30) of Arnold has said he is running for governor.

Other Republicans believed to be eyeing the seat include former 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Bongino, Frederick County Board of Commissioners President Blaine Young and former Congressional candidate Charles Lollar.

House Minority Whip Kathy Szeliga (R-Dist. 7) of Perry Hall said she was pleased with the crop of potential candidates, but with 13 months before the primary, it was too early to indentify a front-runner.

Several potential candidates have been quietly seeking support for a run, said Maryland GOP Chairwoman Diana Waterman. Waterman said she didn’t know of such overtures coming from Hogan’s organization.

“There isn’t a strong sense in the party of one being a front-runner right now,” Waterman said.

Ehrlich, the state’s last Republican governor, faced no serious primary challenge when he was elected in 2002.

Waterman said it would be good if a single, strong Republican candidate emerged, so the party could focus its efforts on Democrats. “[But] I don’t think that’s going to happen,” she said.

But with the 2014 primary scheduled for June rather than September, the party will have much longer to unite behind and campaign for the winner, rather than the previous mad scramble from September until November, Waterman said.

“The party will not play favorites until the primary is over,” she said.

dleaderman@gazette.net