CRISFIELD, Md. — Maryland elections won’t take place until next year, but an annual Eastern Shore crab bake known for its political flavor had an unusual amount of campaign activity surrounding it Wednesday.
Democratic Del. Heather Mizeur pegged the official announcement of her bid to become the state’s first openly gay governor to the day of the 37th annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake.
One day earlier, Republican David Craig announced his running mate, Del. Jeannie Haddaway of the Eastern Shore.
With Maryland’s primary next June, and the general election almost 18 months out, it’s an unusually early start.
“This year, it does seem a lot earlier that people are out there,” Attorney General Doug Gansler said in a tent full of people eating crabs. Gansler plans to announce his bid for the Democratic nomination in September.
Gansler even noted the early presence of an opposing candidate’s observer at one of his recent campaign event’s in western Maryland.
Del. Ron George, who announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for governor earlier this summer, said having next year’s primary in June rather than September partly explains the early starts. That’s combined with what he described as a lack of clear front-runners.
“I think that’s why people felt it’s important to get established early,” George said in an interview by the water where a breeze eased the scorching heat of the event.
As for Craig, the Harford County Executive said he typically starts early.
“I’ve been one of those people that have always made these decisions early, so that’s not new,” he said inside one of the tents set up at the Somers Cove Marina.
Mizeur said the earlier primary is what is making the difference.
“The extra time is needed because we’re not used to voting in June,” she said. “We’re very conditioned in Maryland to having September primaries.”
Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is term-limited, so someone new will be governor when his second term ends in January 2015.
Several people considering a run for the job.
Republican Blaine Young, president of the Board of County Commissioners in Frederick, attended the all-you-can-eat seafood extravaganza. He said he has set an Aug. 24 deadline to make a decision.
Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Democrat, attended with his running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
“This is a time where folks in the community come out, they enjoy each others’ fellowship, the entertainment, a little bit of political discourse,” Brown said.
While Brown and Craig already have their running mates beside them, some potential candidates are taking their time. For one thing, they say, it’s expensive and challenging to maintain momentum for 18 months.
Larry Hogan, a former cabinet member of Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, said he’s in no hurry to decide.
“I just think it’s very, very early to be here in the hot, dog days of July the year before the election to be out campaigning,” Hogan said. “At some point, we might have to take a serious look at it. I don’t think we would do that for quite some time, though.”
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