Maryland State Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County), the first out gay member of that body, raised eyebrows this week when he told the Baltimore Sun he’s considering running next year for governor against Republican incumbent Larry Hogan.
Madaleno’s expression of interest in the race for governor came four months after Maryland State Del. Maggie McIntosh (D-Baltimore City), who’s an out lesbian, announced in November that she was considering running either for governor or state comptroller.
LGBT activists in Maryland, who have been strong supporters of both Madaleno and McIntosh, would be placed in an awkward position if both lawmakers emerge as candidates in the Democratic primary for governor in the spring of 2018.
Other Maryland Democrats who have expressed interest in running for governor are considered strong supporters of LGBT rights, creating a potential primary contest in which LGBT voters would have to choose among friends.
Among them are Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, former NAACP national CEO Benjamin Jealous, and U.S. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.).
Jeffrey Slavin, the gay mayor of Somerset, Md., and the third vice chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, said both Madaleno and McIntosh would be viewed as highly credible and qualified contenders should they formally declare their candidacy for governor.
“They are Annapolis insiders,” Slavin said. “They are policy wonks and they have huge followings,” he said. “And they have been recognized leaders in a wide range of issues and areas. No one could say they are a single-issue candidate.”
McIntosh, 68, began her tenure in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1995 when she was appointed to fill a vacant seat after the incumbent resigned to take another job. She was elected to a full, four-year term two years later and has won re-election every four years since that time.
She currently serves as chair of the House of Delegate’s Appropriations Committee, which is considered one of the chamber’s most important committees, and previously has served as chair or a member of committees considered important.
Madaleno, 51, first won election to the Maryland Legislature in 2002 for a seat in the House of Delegates 18th District in Montgomery County. He won election to the State Senate from that same district in 2006.
As a budget analyst prior to entering the legislature, Madaleno has emerged as a recognized expert on fiscal matters as a lawmaker. He currently serves as vice chair of the State Senate’s Budget and Taxation Committee.
“Out of all the other candidates mentioned, Maggie and Rich know the ins and outs of Annapolis better,” said Slavin.
Patrick Wojahn, the gay mayor of College Park, Md., said he has known McIntosh and Madaleno through his former role as an official with the statewide LGBT group Equality Maryland and considers them highly qualified for the office of governor.
“I think it’s great if not just one but two openly LGBT people run for governor,” said Wojahn. “I think they are both great.” Added Wojahn: “I have not decided who to support. I’m looking at all of the candidates.”
Maryland transgender advocate Dana Beyer, who ran an unsuccessful challenge against Madaleno in the 2014 Democratic primary, said Madaleno’s and McIntosh’s entrance into the governor’s race would be a good thing for LGBT rights.
“I think it’s great that two qualified and credible LGBT candidates are considering running for governor,” said Beyer, who noted she too has yet to decide who she will support.
If McIntosh and Madaleno enter the gubernatorial race they would not be the first openly LGBT candidates to do so. In 2014, then Maryland State Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) gave up her seat to run in the Democratic primary for governor. She lost to then Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown who subsequently lost in the general election to GOP contender Hogan.