Steele boosters say he would be far better positioned than his GOP rivals to raise the kind of money needed to get the party’s message out. And they are hopeful that, as an African American, Steele could court more Democrats than other GOP candidates.
But Steele made limited headway in that regard in 2006, when he lost a U.S. Senate race against then-Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) by 10 percentage points.
In a recent appearance at a Maryland Young Republicans convention, Charles Lollar, another African American who is considering a GOP bid for governor, made the case that his party must do a better job of reaching out to traditionally Democratic voters.
“We have to be bold enough to go where people don’t agree with us,” Lollar said.
Appearing at the same event, Blaine Young, president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners, also spoke candidly about some of the obstacles he and other potential 2014 candidates for governor face. Though he has raised more money than any other GOP hopeful, Young acknowledged it’s tough to convince big donors that he has a real shot.
And Young said that Republicans will face an additional hurdle if Brown is the Democratic nominee because he would become the first African American governor of Maryland if he wins.
“It was neat to vote for the first African American president,” Young said. “They’re going to do the same thing with Brown.”
George, an Annapolis jewelry store owner, has promised to be a pro-business governor who will cut taxes, including rolling back the increase in the gas tax.
Craig has pledged to cut taxes, too. Part of the formula for winning, Craig said, is to get more Montgomery residents, in particular, to vote based on their interests rather than party registration. Many Republicans in the state’s largest county register as Democrats because local races are largely decided in Democratic primaries, he said.
Longtime GOP consultant Don Murphy said Craig is the most qualified candidate for governor in the field. Besides serving as county executive, he has been a mayor and city council member in Havre de Grace and served in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.
But that’s not enough for a Republican to get elected governor in Maryland, he said.
“It will take the Democrats to lose,” said Murphy, who is not working for any of the 2014 contenders. “I don’t think in the history of my lifetime Republicans have won — they’ve been in the right place at the right time.”