Kelly Schulz, a former state delegate in Frederick County and the state’s secretary of commerce, announced Wednesday she is running for governor.

Schulz, 52, is the first Republican to enter the race. If elected, she would be the first female governor in Maryland history.

The Lake Linganore resident said in an interview Wednesday many people asked her to run since Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was re-elected to a second — and final — term. But she said she has been focused on leading the Department of Commerce.

A decision was pretty much finalized over the holiday season, she said.

“There was a lot of thought and a lot of prayer between me and my husband and my children and my extended family just to say, ‘Is this something that we all think could be a possibility to do?’” Schulz said. “And we kind of came to that conclusion.”

Schulz was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2010, representing District 4A, which encompassed much of the northern half of Frederick County, minus the city of Frederick.

In the Republican primary, she defeated then-Del. Paul Stull by six votes. It was a “trying time,” which she reflects on almost every day.

“I say if it weren’t for those last six houses when I thought my day was over and knew that I just needed to knock on just a couple more doors,” she said about that initial campaign. “[And] I think that’s kind of where we are with our campaign. We’re not done until we’re done ... [and] it’s always going to be about, how much more can we get done before the end of the day?”

Schulz was then re-elected to District 4 in 2014, which spanned much of the outer rural ring of the county and a small sliver of Carroll County. Hogan then tapped her to serve as the state’s secretary of labor, licensing and regulation in 2015 and selected her as the state’s secretary of commerce in late 2018. She’s worked in that role since January 2019.

Political insiders in recent years have seen Schulz as a potential candidate for the state’s top elected office. During her time in the House of Delegates, she quickly earned the respect of colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

Lawmakers and politicos see Schulz as a hard worker and skilled legislator but also as someone who is personable, knowing how to separate tough policy discussions from personal conversations with delegates, senators and other state officials.

During her time in office, Schulz worked on legislation to help farm breweries modify business regulations.

But it was Slayer’s Statute that she called a “game-changer” and “defining moment” of her time as a delegate. That bill, which passed in 2013, prevents someone who killed or worked with someone to kill a family member or friend from benefitting from the victim’s estate and/or other belongings. The law is named after Ann Sue Metz, a Frederick resident killed by her husband Marshall in 2009.

The husband sold Ann’s house while in jail, The Frederick News-Post previously reported.

“We changed people’s lives that day when we passed that bill so that other people did not have to go through similar types of situations,” Schulz said. “When we talk about public service, that’s the meaning of public service: to be able to change lives for the better.”

Schulz’s qualities and work ethic are something Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore and Harford), the outgoing minority whip in the House of Delegates, thinks will make Schulz a tough opponent in the gubernatorial race next year.

“On top of all that, she’s a really nice person,” Szeliga told the News-Post in 2019. “So she’s easy to get along with. And that’s important. You can have someone that takes office who’s a real policy wonk, yet they lack the interpersonal skills. So Kelly really is the whole package.”

On Wednesday, Szeliga said she’s excited for Schulz and lauded her business background and overall work in the Department of Labor and Department of Commerce. Working in Hogan’s cabinet only helps her chances, she said.

“I think Gov. Hogan’s leadership style has certainly rubbed off on Kelly Schulz,” Szeliga said. “The people of Maryland are looking for a middle- and mild-temperament person.”

Szeliga and Sen. Michael Hough (R-Frederick and Carroll) both entered the House of Delegates alongside Schulz in January 2011. Hough noted he and Schulz were also elected to the Frederick County Republican Central Committee, running on the same campaign slate in 2006.

Hough said Schulz was very “studious” in the House of Delegates, which included researching studies and other sources about an often-called “rain tax” proposed by former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and passed by the General Assembly in 2012.

That tax required the state’s 10 largest jurisdictions to impose a stormwater remediation fee to clean up the state’s waterways. Republicans quickly named it a “rain tax,” and many believe that’s why Hogan won in an upset in 2014.

Several of the past elections for governor have been competitive, Hough said, despite Democrats holding a supermajority in the statehouse. And it’s great a local name is running for the state’s top office, he added.

“It’s good for the county to have one of our people running at the top of the ticket,” Hough said.

Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s) also knows Schulz well, as he served with her on the Economics Matters Committee. Davis said she asked good questions during committee hearings and was easy to get along with outside of legislative work.

“She fought passionately for the things she believed in,” he told the News-Post in 2019. “But then when it was over, you could go have lunch or a beverage or whatever with her, and it was just over. So people liked that way about her, that she kept it professional.”

The gubernatorial election will likely be crowded next year: Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (D) and Montgomery County resident Jon Baron (D), an executive at Arnold Ventures—a philanthropic organization focused on health care, higher education and criminal justice, among other causes—have all announced they’re running.

Many more Democrats, including U.S. Reps. Anthony Brown and David Trone, former Democratic Committee Chair Tom Perez, former U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. all are considering running.

Schulz first needs to win a Republican primary next year before focusing on a general contest in largely blue Maryland.

The GOP primary in Maryland is seen by many as a litmus test for where the state’s Republican Party is headed following former President Donald Trump’s time in office. Political observers believe former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele and Harford County Executive Barry Glassman are potential Republican contenders.

Current Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford announced Wednesday he wasn’t running for governor.

Schulz said she’s “gotten good feedback” from the Maryland Republican Party and has had the opportunity to travel to every county and Baltimore in her roles in Hogan’s cabinet, learning what the key issues are in each jurisdiction.

“At this point in time, I’m not running against anyone. I’m not running in a Democratic primary right now against Peter Franchot,” she said about her chances in a heavily Democratic state and possible political opponents. “Peter Franchot is going to have his own campaign to go through for the Democratic primary, so we’ll see how all those candidates come through.”

For Del. Davis, it doesn’t matter who Schulz ends up running against.

“I’m just glad I won’t have to run against Kelly, because she’s going to be a handful whatever race she gets in,” he said in a 2019 interview.

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter: @Steve_Bohnel

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(34) comments

Joeseamhead

Strong rumors are floating that David Trone is going to throw his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination, which upsets the Peter Franchot contingency. I am personally not a huge fan of Trone, but I would pick him in the primary over Franchot, and would vote for him against this GOP contestant if she were to secure the nomination.

KellyAlzan

If Parrot couldn’t win 2020, there’s no way this woman can.

public-redux

She will probably do better than Prostitute Guy did.

KellyAlzan

Here’s an easy gauge for the changes of her becoming governor:

Neil parrot’s huge loss

KellyAlzan

She has zero chance. Not a good time to be a republican in a blue state. And didn’t she let her voters down not too long ago?

Dwasserba

I agree it’s too bad she is an R. I’m not happy with them. I do think she’s a good choice.

artandarchitecture

Kelly, here's a project for you:

MARYLAND has 2nd-most defendants charged in federal human trafficking cases, just behind N.Y. per the 2018 Federal Human Trafficking Report.

54% of the sex-crime victims say that pre-trafficking their relationship to the defendant was *smuggler*. Howard County officials have mentioned that the hoards of illegal aliens currently surging on our southern U.S. border, list the state of Maryland as their 2nd favored destination (probably in large part because Baltimore, P.G., & Montgomery Counties are illegal alien sanctuaries.)

artandarchitecture

18 Missing Children Recovered by US Marshals, Dozens More Located in Maryland

BY SAMUEL ALLEGRI April 9, 2021

Within a 60 day operation:

"The Capitol Area Regional fugitive task force in the district of Maryland was able to recover or locate a total of 131 children,” said U.S. Marshal Johnny L. Hughes in a statement."

public-redux

As a lifelong Republican, I have one really important question: What is your opinion of Trump?

A failure to reject Trump -- or a failure to answer the question -- means I don't need to ask anything else.

Dwasserba

[thumbup]pub Good answer

Jim Hartley

Agree. Three question test of her seriousness. Where was Barack Obama born? Was President Biden elected freely and fairly? Is Donald Trump “a good man with a big heart”?

HappySeller2014

Being a realtor is always a good fallback position if your other professional ventures do not pan out.

FrederickFan

She is not competent to be Governor. This reflects on the weakness of the Republican bench.

vodalone

0.0001% of becoming governor. Hey, but worth a try if you have the time and money.

phydeaux994

Michael Steele is a Real Republican, just like Governor Hogan, and a good Maryland guy too. He’s got my vote if he runs.

HappySeller2014

Problem is, only half of the Repubs will vote for him. The Trumpsters will run someone like Cox. The Republican Party is now practicing fratricide, so even marginal run-of-the-mill Democrats should win elections in MD for the forseeable future.

Greg F

Just don't put up the same boring candidate that was a major snoozefest that put Hogan in office. Even I wouldn't have voted for him....he'd have put me to sleep on the way to the polls.

HappySeller2014

Schulz/Cox 2022, eh?

HappySeller2014

Will she seek a Trump endorsement? This state is as blue as a cloudless sky. I do not see a Republican being elected to a high Maryland state office for another generation, at a minimum. The longer Hogan around the worse he looks. A Fredneckian has no chance in Annapolis.

Just ask Cox, who is a pariah. And now you have another Fredneckian running for governor? Blue Wave II on its way...just tie her to Cox.

schaeferhund

To get my vote in the general election, she would have to quit the Republican Party and run as an independent or third party candidate. I quit the GOP, so I cannot vote in the primary. And I shall not rejoin it or participate like I had in the past to try to improve it. The party must go away. I'd be excited to join a new center-right party that included anti-Trump former Republicans. But I cannot cast my vote for a Republican after 1/6. Never again.

HappySeller2014

Thousands upon thousands in Maryland feel the same way schaef...and the blue Democrat base is very strong.

Koselak

My thoughts exactly Schaeferhund. 1/6, and the lack of votes necessary for impeachment, was the final straw for me and the GOP party. The party has lost its way. It values power and control over every thing else. Even if that means selling their souls. Ironically, selling their souls is what is drawing many of us away from supporting the party.

HappySeller2014

The Republican Party's espousing of white priviledge and holding onto the status quo as the USA becomes more culturally, ethnically, and economically diverse will doom its existance. When both big business and the common Joe are fleeing from your party and your principles, you are just flirting with the religious right as you sink on the Titanic.

teadoffinfrederickcounty

Very disappointed to hear Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford announced Wednesday he wasn't running for governor. He would have been a great governor!

Slightly different take on Ms. Schulz. I was a district 4 voter who voted for and contributed to her campaign. She betrayed voters who elected her when she abandoned her commitment to serve after being elected for a second term and in a self-aggrandizing decision to be a part of Hogan administration and playing musical chairs in secretary seats.

FNP as always, missing critical facts, failed to reveal important information. Joining Schulz’ nascent campaign as treasurer is Sam Malhotra, a former chief of staff to Hogan. The very same Sam Malhotra who was forced out after 10 months as chief of staff by taking unauthorized actions without informing the governor.

What next, will Blaine Young be joining her ticket as Lt. Governor?

HappySeller2014

The feeling of abandonment was felt, and is still felt, by many in your voting dustrict, tead. Everything east of Frederick County in MD is deep blue, so if she cannot carry her own county and constituents, the cause will be hopeless. Not even Blaine, or Cox, could solve this dilemma.

Dwasserba

[thumbup]schaefer Run for office

FrederickFan

Kelly Schultz once dated Billy Shreve, a big Trump supporter, so she is all in on Trump.

gjthuro

Brown is a LOSER, he couldn't even manage the Md Obamacare website that wasted Millions and never worked...on day 1 he couldn't even find the program manager who had skipped off the the Carrib. for a vacation

HappySeller2014

Reminds me of that planeload of useless COVID supplies from South Korea that landed @ BWI a little while back. Medical dabacles in MD common, regardless of party. Look at MD'S ridiculous vaccine rollout.

KellyAlzan

I know. And the silence that followed

dtwigg

Her work experience and political portfolio are extremely thin. I doubt that she would even win in the primary in Frederick County.

HappySeller2014

How about a Cox endorsement? [crying]

Business Owner

Great news!

HappySeller2014

She running with Cox as her Lt. Governor?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!