Though he says he has learned that being gay isn't a big deal in Maryland politics — he ran for State Senate and it was a non-issue — it would be a very big deal if he were to win the governorship because he would become the first out gay person elected governor in the country. (You will recall that in 2004, New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey came out as a “gay American,” but he was not elected as such.)
Asked why he's running for governor against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, he told Metro Weekly:
For a variety of reasons. One, I think our state is not moving in the right direction. The way I look at it is, change is inevitable but growth is optional. Maryland simply is not growing in any sort of meaningful way that’s positioning ourselves to be a prosperous community for the 21st century, and without bold leadership from the governor, the state simply isn’t going to make progress.
When I looked around at some of the issues that I cared about, and I looked around for candidates that I thought would be able to carry the mantle and make progress on the things that I care about, I couldn’t find them, and just came to the conclusion of, “All right, if these are the issues that you think are important and these are the issues that you think the people of Maryland should be having a conversation [about], then instead of trying to find someone else to do that, maybe you should just step up and do it.”
When I looked around at the other candidates in the Democratic field, no one has the depth of experience at state issues that I have. Maybe the public’s view of experience amongst political candidates is starting to shift after our Maryland experience with Larry Hogan and our national experience with Donald Trump. Maybe this fascination for the outsider to come in and change everything when they don’t have experience and they don’t have relationships actually isn’t the way to make progress.
The way to make progress is to elect somebody, just like you would elevate somebody in other fields, who has knowledge and experience in the field, has relationships with people. One that can actually start from day one in making progress.
Governor Hogan is always fond of saying as an aside, “I had to submit my first budget my second day in office.” I’ve been working on the state budget for years, so it’s not going to be a problem for me. I think I have unparalleled experience and a record of accomplishment through the legislative process. I have, as a legislator now for fifteen years, fought my way up the ladder, engaged in the process, and managed to succeed in helping moving our state forward, whether it’s been equality for LGBT individuals, or improving educational outcomes for young people in Maryland, improving transportation options, expanding health care, making sure that hungry children get fed at a rate higher in Maryland, or attacking poverty.
All of these things I have led on, and to me, the governor sets the agenda in a state like Maryland. Our constitution reserves a lot of power for our governor. It’s often seen as one of, if not the most, powerful gubernatorial offices in the country because of the amount of powers that are granted to our governor.
Sounds like a very good guy, and why shouldn't Maryland have a Democratic governor?