Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) has formally announced her 2014 gubernatorial campaign.
“I’m running for governor because I love this state and I see limitless possibilities on what we can accomplish together,” she told the Washington Blade in an interview before she officially declared her candidacy in an e-mail to supporters. Mizeur cited economic development, protecting the state’s environment and improving the quality of Maryland’s public schools and health care system as among her top campaign issues. “There are great challenges facing us and also incredible opportunities.”
Mizeur, 40, has represented the 20th House District that includes Takoma Park and Silver Spring in the General Assembly since 2006.
The former Democratic National Committee member worked on now Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Mizeur in 2008 endorsed President Obama’s election campaign after her consideration of him or then-New York Sen. Hillary Clinton received national attention.
Mizeur would make history as Maryland’s first female governor and the country’s first openly LGBT governor if voters elect her in 2014.
“Diversity is enormously important,” she told the Blade. “Not simply to have a gay governor, but to have a governor who can represent the voices of people in communities that have not always had a voice in the process.”
Mizeur added her approach to governing the state and her vision for Maryland is “about bringing people together and making everyone a stakeholder and creating solutions to the issues” it faces.
Brown, Gansler have fundraising advantage
Mizeur will face off against Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown, who last month unveiled Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate. Attorney General Doug Gansler is expected to officially declare his candidacy to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley in 2014 later this year, while Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is also considered a potential candidate.
Harford County Executive David Craig, state Del. Ron George (R-Anne Arundel County,) 2012 U.S. Senate candidate Brian Vaeth and Frederick County Board of Commissioners President Blaine Young have also officially declared their candidacy on the Republican side.
Craig on Tuesday unveiled state Del. Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-Talbot County) as his running mate.
Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, who was Maryland’s lieutenant governor from 2003-2007, said last month during an interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd he is “looking at” entering the race. Former 2010 congressional candidate Charles Lollar is among the other Republicans who are rumored to be considering their own gubernatorial bids.
EMILY’s List and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund are expected to back Mizeur’s campaign, but campaign finance reports indicate both Brown and Gansler have a significant fundraising advantage.
Mizeur reported in a campaign finance report she filed in January that she raised $244,089.40 between Jan. 12, 2012, and January 9 of this year. Brown said he raised $1,247,811.80 in cash and in-kind donations during the same period, while Gansler netted $1,236,284.96.
Mizeur declined to disclose to the Blade the amount of money she has raised since the last campaign finance report she filed in January.
She again stressed she feels she is the best person to succeed O’Malley in Annapolis in 2014.
“I’m not going to go into office playing it safe for four years so that I can assure myself of re-election,” Mizeur said. “The bold, aggressive, visionary ideas that I’m laying out in the course of the campaign is the action agenda for my term as governor.”
Mizeur defends role she played to advance marriage bill
Rev. Delman Coates of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County and other LGBT rights advocates have applauded Mizeur for the role she played in the passage of Maryland’s same-sex marriage referendum last November in spite of Marylanders for Marriage Equality Campaign Manager Josh Levin’s suggestion that she could have done more to support the effort.
Mizeur pointed out to the Blade during an exclusive interview last fall during which she announced she was considering a run for governor that she took part in fundraising events and testified in support of the bill. The Montgomery County Democrat, who married her wife, Deborah Mizeur, during a 2005 ceremony along the Chesapeake Bay and again in California before voters in 2008 approved Proposition 8 that banned gay nuptials in the state, also gave an emotional speech on the floor of the House of Delegates before it passed the same-sex marriage bill in 2012.
Mizeur also noted she and the other seven openly gay Maryland lawmakers remained focused on the same-sex marriage effort throughout the 2012 legislative session.
“Each of us was working hard in our own way,” Mizeur told the Blade last fall. “My entire public schedule was Question 6-related for months.”
Mizeur said she also worked “very closely” with Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer earlier this year to advance a bill that would have banned anti-transgender discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation.
The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in March narrowly struck down the measure.
Mizeur pointed to both the same-sex marriage and trans rights bills as examples of her “ability to work with my colleagues” to “push through some pretty big efforts.”
“I will continue to build on those relationships in order to get other priority issues pushed through the General Assembly,” she said
Beyer, who supports Mizeur, on Tuesday described the Montgomery County Democrat as “a force to be reckoned with.”
“History can be made,” Beyer told the Blade. “Identity politics aside, Heather does her job really well.”
While not explicitly endorsing Mizeur’s campaign, Equality Maryland PAC Chair Tim Williams welcomed her candidacy and other out Marylanders who have decided to seek office in 2014.
“The presence of at least one openly gay candidate in the governor’s race, as well as the many LGBT individuals and allies who are running for other state and local offices, is an indication of how far we have come as a state and a nation,” Williams said in a statement to the Blade.