HAVRE de GRACE, Md. (AP)- Harford County Executive David Craig on Monday officially announced his bid to seek the GOP nomination for governor, while Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown picked Howard County Executive Ken Ulman as his running mate.
The announcements came about a year before voters from both parties will nominate candidates and about a year a half before Maryland's 2014 election. More hopefuls are expected to join the race from both parties and potentially create crowded primaries, which are scheduled for next June.
Craig, who has served as county executive since 2005, said tax increases and fees in recent years during Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's administration are a reason why he is running to give Maryland voters a choice in a state government dominated by Democrats.
"It's not working for us," Craig told supporters near his home in Havre de Grace. "It's not working for our cities, our towns, our counties, our farmers, our small-business people. It has forgotten us. Meanwhile, there is a political monopoly in Annapolis, and it makes government work for itself."
Craig, who also has served as a state senator and state delegate, told reporters after his announcement that he would like to cut the state's 6 percent sales tax to "at least 5 percent." He also said he would like to eliminate the estate tax. Craig said Maryland taxes are driving residents away and scaring off businesses.
Republicans in statewide Maryland races face a tough challenge, because Democratic voters outnumber Republicans in the state by a 2-1 margin.
In Columbia, Brown moved swiftly to name a running mate. Ulman, who is term limited as county executive, had been weighing a gubernatorial bid of his own. Brown officially announced his candidacy last month. On Monday, he also picked up the endorsement of Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings.
"Anthony Brown and Ken Ulman are the best team to build on our successes and make Maryland a better place for all of our families," Cummings said in a written statement.
Attorney General Doug Gansler, who reported more than $5 million in campaign funds in January, and Del. Heather Mizeur, D-Montgomery, are planning to run in the Democratic primary. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger also is considering a bid.
O'Malley, who is term limited, is supporting Brown.
More Republicans also are expected to enter the race.
Delegate Ron George, R-Anne Arundel, has scheduled a formal announcement Wednesday in Annapolis.
Brian Vaeth, a retired firefighter from Baltimore County, already has filed to run.
Blaine Young, president of the Board of County Commissioners in Frederick County, is considering running for the GOP nomination. Larry Hogan, who was a member of former Gov. Robert Ehrlich's cabinet, has been mentioned as a possible candidate. However, in a telephone interview Monday he said that while he hasn't ruled out running, he is focusing now on speaking out against O'Malley's policies.
Charles Lollar, who lost a race against Rep. Steny Hoyer in 2010, is considering running. Another potential candidate is Meyer Marks, a political activist from Montgomery County.
Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent who lost his race against Sen. Ben Cardin, had been considering a run for governor, but he has decided to run for Congress instead.