This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. April 13, 2022, to clarify the timing of endorsements made by Marc Elrich, Gabe Albornoz and Evan Glass.
Some Montgomery County Council members are lining up behind candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial Democratic primary.
But so far, Council Member Nancy Navarro — who is running for lieutenant governor on a ticket with Rushern Baker III — hasn’t won any endorsements from her eight council colleagues.
On Tuesday, the two County Council officers — President Gabe Albornoz and Vice President Evan Glass — again proclaimed their support for Tom Perez as governor. They appeared at a campaign event with County Executive Marc Elrich, who also backs Perez; both are former Montgomery County Council members.
Albornoz and Glass pointed to Perez’s roots and connections to Montgomery County and his support of immigrants and the working class as reasons they endorsed him. Albornoz touted Perez’s political experience at the local, state and federal level.
“He is absolutely the most qualified person to lead our state right now,” Albornoz said Tuesday of Perez, a former U.S. labor secretary and assistant attorney general.
“He recognizes that so many people in our community are struggling every single day, and it’s why he has devoted himself to promoting policies and offering programs and solutions that help so many of our residents,” Glass said Tuesday.
Albornoz first publicly endorsed Perez on Oct. 1, 2021, and Glass endorsed him on March 1, 2022. On Tuesday, they joined Elrich, who was announcing his endorsement of Perez for the first time.
Council Member Will Jawando was the first on the council to endorse in the gubernatorial race, backing Wes Moore, a former nonprofit executive and Army veteran, last June.
Council Member Andrew Friedson spoke out in favor of his old boss, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, a few months later.
The other four council members are either contemplating making an endorsement or staying neutral in the race.
This year’s gubernatorial race has particularly strong connections to Montgomery County. Of the 10 candidates filed to run in the Democratic primary, eight either live in the county now or used to live there — Perez, Moore, Franchot, Doug Gansler, Jon Baron, Ashwani Jain, John King Jr. and Jerome Segal.
Baker is one of the two filed candidates who are not current or former Montgomery County residents, but by picking Navarro, a Montgomery County resident is on his ticket. Moore also picked a Montgomery County running mate — former Del. Aruna Miller.
Of the four Republicans who filed to run, one — Robin Ficker — lives in Montgomery County.
The filing deadline is Friday. The primary is scheduled for July 19.
When asked about County Council allegiances in the gubernatorial race, Navarro said in an interview that she is focused on connecting with voters across the state and is more interested in earning votes than endorsements.
“I’m very focused on working hand in hand with Rushern [Baker], talking … to voters and listening to what the concerns are around the state,” said Navarro, a County Council member for 13 years after five years on the school board. “Obviously, as I am someone who has had a long track record of service in Montgomery County, people know me and they know my track record, and that’s more important to me than any endorsement.”
Jawando was the first member of the all-Democratic County Council to endorse a gubernatorial candidate. It happened last June, when he and Moore went on a walking tour of downtown Silver Spring.
“Wes Moore’s vision for Maryland looks like a brighter future for our families and our children,” Jawando said in a prepared statement at the time. “Wes has the experience, the vision, and the leadership we need in Montgomery County and all across Maryland, and I’m proud to commit to working to make him our next Governor.”
Friedson, who worked in Franchot’s office from 2011 to 2016, endorsed his former boss in September.
“As Governor, he’ll be a fierce advocate for small businesses and working families to help us recover and rebuild a stronger and more inclusive Maryland economy,” Friedson said in a statement about Franchot at the time.
Other council members have not committed, either choosing to stay neutral or wait until later in the race.
Council Member Sidney Katz said in an interview Tuesday that he isn’t endorsing in the governor’s race, adding that “he had too many friends” who are running.
Council Member Hans Riemer, who is running against Elrich for county executive in a Democratic primary, said in an interview that he doubts that he will endorse anyone, either.
“There are a lot of great candidates, and I’m focused on our campaign, and I don’t think the voters need me at this point,” Riemer said. “In other words, the folks I’m working with to change Montgomery County and getting better leadership here have lots of different views on who should be governor.”
Council Member Tom Hucker, who also is challenging Elrich for county executive in the primary, did not rule out endorsing anyone. He echoed Katz’s comments that he has “a lot of friends” in a race with multiple well-qualified candidates.
“The future is murky. I’m not sure. I have a lot of other things on my mind,” Hucker said when asked if he’ll endorse someone before the primary. “But I’m committed that we will have a very strong Democrat in the race against any Republican this year.”
Council Member Craig Rice — who, like Navarro, is term-limited on the council and can’t run for re-election — wrote in a text message that he isn’t endorsing anybody yet, but he might.
Steve Bohnel can be reached at email@example.com