SILVER SPRING – At Denizens Brewing Company in Silver Spring, among his supporters, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot announced he will be running for governor on Jan. 6. Two years away from the gubernatorial elections, Franchot is the first to make a bid for the office.
Franchot has considered the governorship times before, as close allies have urged him to run, he said. He publicly considered running in the 2014 elections, but ultimately decided to run for re-election for comptroller in 2012.
Franchot, however, saw no reason to continue to hold his current position, seeking to step up “several levels.”
“I’ve done everything I could do to take the comptroller’s office to a higher level,” Franchot said. “I’m very comfortable in leaving that post.”
Franchot is in his fourth term as comptroller, having been in the office since 2008. Before that, he spent 20 years as a delegate representing Takoma Park and Silver Spring. While considering himself a “proud Democrat,” his years in the comptroller’s office have made him fiscally conservative. He has looked to stop increasing tax rates in the state and focus on making do with the state’s decided budgets.
He’s also shown support for the Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, especially with regards to his I-270 expansion plan, calling himself “a huge champion of mass transit.”
Although he previously resisted changes Hogan made to the plan in December, Franchot is ultimately in support of the expansion, despite environmental concerns from Montgomery County officials and residents and a general consensus from engineers and experts in transportation that expansion only makes traffic worse.
But regardless, Franchot merely said, “I respect (their concerns), I just don’t agree with it.”
Franchot has spent a significant amount of time in Prince George’s County, helping support small businesses and encouraging residents to “go local” during back-to-school shopping.
Following the 2019 government shutdown, his office met with the City of Greenbelt business owners and provided information on how they can take advantage of the services they provide, including providing feedback on the state’s integrated tax system.
As part of his effort of recognizing businesses throughout the state, Franchot honored the National Harbor’s Walrus Oyster and Ale House with a proclamation for its oyster shell recycling efforts through the Oyster Recovery Partnership’s (ORP) Shell Recycling Alliance on Dec. 6. The program has led to a more cost-effective way for the state to promote the health of the Chesapeake Bay.
“It’s always great to get recognized by the state; residents as well too. Any time you can be recognized for doing things that we just culturally want to do as a part of our restaurant group, it’s definitely an honor,” Jason Fleming, a partner with the Star Restaurant Group, said.
Franchot’s own priorities over his 33-year history have included proper air conditioning and heating in schools, an issue he’s raised while sitting on the Board of Public Works to resolve issues in Baltimore-area areas. He’s making it a top priority in his plans as governor as well, along with fixing potholes and picking up trash, as a show that the office can provide state residents resolutions to the “little things.”
He’s also looked to downgrade the public sector’s role in the lives of residents, claiming that while there’s a “role in regulating and overseeing the private sector,” it shouldn’t be “standing in the way of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
In a further push for lowering public power, Franchot wants to reduce the number of delegates representing a district down to just one, believing that two-member and three-member districts are unable to hold their representatives accountable.
Regardless, the comptroller believes he has support from the House of Delegates while finding confidence in being “an independent Democrat that’s not under the thumb of any political machine down in Annapolis or anywhere else in the state.”
Working with $1 million in campaign funds and an approval rating of over 65% for his work as comptroller, everything appears lined up for Franchot.
“I believe the voters have a connection to me,” he said. “Not that they agree with me all the time, but they see me as a straight shooter.”
“Everything’s lined up perfectly now, and I’m very happy to be in the race,” he said.