Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D-Prince George's), appears with Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to announce a state transportation project in Oxon Hill in 2016. The longtime senator will announce Monday that he is running for county executive. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

State Sen. C. Anthony Muse (D) on Monday became the first candidate in the race to succeed outgoing Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker (III), touring the Maryland suburb and promising to focus on core issues like schools, health care and economic development.

“I want our students to do well, but I want to know our students are actually doing well,” Muse, 59, said outside Crossland High School, a reference to recent allegations that county school officials tampered with student grades to artificially boost graduation rates. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Sunday asked the state education board to investigate the claims.

At a strip mall outside the gates of the U.S. Census Bureau in Suitland, Muse promised to continue efforts to attract development that would draw out workers from behind the iron fence dividing the federal campus from the neighborhood.

“If you’re going to work here, we want you to be a part of this community,” the veteran politician and pastor said, as campaign volunteers cheered around him.

Muse has spent more than two decades in Annapolis, having been elected a state delegate in 1994 and a state senator in 2006. He lost a race for county executive in 2002.

In an interview, he said he would bring “bold leadership” to county government.

“Our county has been in chaos over issues politicians have raised that our citizens never asked for,” Muse said, referring to efforts to add seats to the county council, raise taxes to generate more money for schools and lengthen the amount of time politicians can stay in office. “I know we can do better.”

Political insiders say the county executive’s race likely will also include Democrats Angela D. Alsobrooks, the state’s attorney for Prince George’s, and former congresswoman Donna F. Edwards. In the heavily Democratic county, winning the party primary — which is scheduled for June 26, 2018, is tantamount to winning the general election.

Baker, who is term-limited, is running for governor.

Muse, who in the legislature represents a swath of southern Prince George’s, has emerged as a popular figure among some party activists who, like him, have a reputation for challenging leadership.

But as one of the more socially conservative members of his party, Muse has also taken positions during his career that appear out of step with many Democratic voters in the county, including on gaming and same-sex marriage.

Muse says he began his life in an abusive, working-class Baltimore home and was abandoned at the age of 12. After passing through several foster homes, he was adopted and raised by a United Methodist pastor, the Rev. George Stansbury.

He graduated from Morgan State University and earned a master’s in divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary. He began his career in ministry at the age of 20, at a United Methodist church in Ellicott City, Md., and later moved to a church in Brandywine, winning over congregations with his passionate oratory and charisma.

He founded Ark of Safety Christian Church in Upper Marlboro after breaking with the Methodists over theological differences and a legal dispute.

In Annapolis, Muse has sponsored dozens of bills advocating for resources for domestic violence survivors and tightening laws against their abusers; championed juvenile justice reforms; and worked with colleagues to expand eligibility for the expungement of certain criminal convictions.

He has been a vocal critic of Baker’s restructuring of the local school board and has called for the resignation of schools chief Kevin Maxwell. Muse also has blasted the administration and county council over campaigns to extend term limits, raise property taxes and add at-large members to the legislature.

He is known for responding to problems affecting his constituents, such as a slope failure that forced people out of their homes in Fort Washington in 2014.

“People are saying they don’t trust government,” he said outside Crossland. “I have a history of trust with this community. What I have said, I have done. My word is my word.”