Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael S. Steele, who floated the idea this summer of running for governor of Maryland, said Wednesday that he will not enter the 2014 race.
“I’m not doing it. I’m going to take a pass on this one,” Steele said in an interview, citing both personal considerations and strategic calculations.
If Steele had moved forward with a bid, he would have been the biggest Republican name in next year’s contest to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), but he still faced an uphill battle in a state where Democrats have a more than 2-to-1 advantage in party registration.
Steele served from 2003 to 2007 as Maryland’s lieutenant governor under former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.(R) , the state’s only GOP chief executive during the past generation. But Steele fell short in 2006 when he ventured out on his own and sought to become a U.S. senator from the state.
Following a rocky tenure as RNC chairman, he has become a popular commentator on national politics on cable station MSNBC.
Steele said he expects to endorse one of the Republicans who enter Maryland’s 2014 gubernatorial race but declined to say which one. And he said he would be available to offer advice.
“Traditional models don’t work in Maryland,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to put all the pieces together to run a winning campaign.”
Republicans who have launched campaigns include Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Del. Ronald A. George (Anne Arundel) and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar. Larry Hogan, a former Ehrlich Cabinet secretary, has said he is also taking a serious look at the 2014 race.
At least three Democrats are eyeing the governor’s office: Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery).
Steele said he is not ruling out a future run for public office in Maryland, saying he cherished his time as lieutenant governor.
“If the Lord allows, and the people concur, that’s an opportunity I’m not closing the door on,” Steele said.