Julie Verratti, co-founder of Denizens Brewing Co., has been tapped by Maryland gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross as his running mate. (Ross campaign/Ross campaign)

Maryland gubernatorial candidate Alec Ross has chosen Julie Verratti, owner of a craft brewery in Montgomery County, as his running mate.

Verratti co-founded Denizens Brewing Co. four years ago in Silver Spring and previously served as a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Ross said he met Verratti on the campaign trail last year and was impressed by her executive experience, her values of entrepreneurship and activism, and her innovative ideas.

“We’re both passionate about ensuring that people from every Zip code exceed in tomorrow’s economy,” said Ross, 46, a tech entrepreneur who served as the senior adviser for innovation to the U.S. secretary of state during the Obama administration.

Neither has run for political office. And Verratti, 38, who has campaigned for issues, including marriage equality, said she never considered seeking office until Ross asked.

“I’ve tried to live my life in service,” she said. “And I believe I have the skills to help Alec move Maryland forward.”


Julie Verratti, left, has joined the gubernatorial ticket of Alec Ross, right. (Ross campaign/Ross campaign)

Verratti was one of three potential lieutenant governor candidates the campaign vetted, Ross said. The others were a current elected official and a former elected official, whom Ross declined, through a spokesman, to identify.

Ross said his ticket “reflects the values of the millennial generation . . . Ours is a candidacy that is real departure from William Donald Schaefer’s Maryland, the politics of the good ol’ boy network.”

Verratti has advocated for human rights, LGBT rights and the environment, and has testified before Congress and state and local lawmakers on issues that affect small businesses, the beer industry and gays and lesbians.

Last year, she served on the “Reform on Tap” task force, which was created by Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) to highlight the industry’s growth and to push an overhaul of the state’s laws to encourage more growth in the craft beer industry.

Len N. Foxwell, Franchot’s chief of staff, said he has worked closely with Verratti on the task force and described her as a “breakout star.”

“She’s competed and succeeded in a male-dominated industry,” Foxwell said, adding that she has “progressive social values blended with her sense of fiscal pragmatism that comes from her background as a small-business owner.”

Franchot has not made an endorsement in the governor’s race.

State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery) also announced his running mate on Monday. He selected Luwanda W. Jenkins, a business executive who served in three previous Democratic gubernatorial administrations. Attorney James Shea chose Baltimore City Council member Brandon Scott last week and former NAACP president Ben Jealous named former state Democratic Party chair Susan Turnbull as his lieutenant governor choice in November.

Candidates running for office have until Feb. 27 to officially file for candidacy.

Three candidates, Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and former Michelle Obama aide Krishanti Vignarajah, have yet to name their running mate choices.

The winner of the June 26 Democratic primary will face Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford (R) in the general election.