Former news anchor and Marriott executive Kathleen Matthews, who lost to then-state Sen. Jamie Raskin in Maryland’s 8th District Democratic congressional primary, said Wednesday that she is a candidate for state party chair.
Matthews said in an interview that she was approached about the job by senior Maryland Democrats — U.S. Rep. Steny H. Hoyer and Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen. Chair Bruce Poole said he will step down March 1, when the state party’s executive committee is scheduled to meet.
Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Maryland more than 2-to-1. But the party has been struggling to recover from the upset victory of Republican Larry Hogan over Democrat Anthony Brown in the 2014 governor’s race, and Hogan’s soaring popularity since then.
Poole, 57, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates for 12 years and House majority leader from 1990 to 1993, has been chair since 2015. He said he had to return to his busy law practice.
“I loved it and had a great time, but I need to get back to work,” he said.
Shortly after her primary loss, Matthews expressed interest in trying again for elected office, saying that “all options are on the table.” Her name has surfaced in speculation about campaigns for Montgomery County executive, County Council or the 6th district Congressional seat, should Rep. John Delaney (D) decide to step down after 2018. in 2018.
But Matthews, 63, said she is focused on the chair’s job.
“I thought it would be a great way to serve my state and country at this critical time,” said Matthews, who lives in Chevy Chase.
Poole and other party leaders said that there is no discernible competition for the post and that Matthews has been working hard to contact party leaders.
“She’s going to be in a pretty good position,” Poole said. “She’s got a lot of attributes that will aid her in running the party. She’s a woman, she comes from Montgomery County, and she’s got a lot of great connections.”
After leaving WJLA, Matthews spent a decade working as a vice president at Marriott International, where among other duties she oversaw a political action committee that contributed more than $1 million to House and Senate candidates. She is married to MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews.
Matthews worked as a surrogate speaker for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign. She also serves on the board of Emerge Maryland, an organization that helps prepare women to run for office.
Poole said that if Matthews is named by the state party’s executive board, she will serve as interim chair until May, when the full committee meets.
Josh Hicks contributed to this report.
An earlier version of this article misidentified the name of the board that Matthews serves on. The correct name is Emerge Maryland.