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Blaine Young ponders a run for Md. Governor's seat

Friday - 3/16/2012, 2:00am  ET

Blaine Young knows he would be an underdog, but the Frederick County Commissioners president announced Thursday he will explore a run for governor in 2014.

Young, a Republican, has made plenty of trips to Annapolis to testify on behalf of Frederick County residents, he said, and he is ready to see if statewide office is the next step.

"I think everyone is frustrated and disgusted with what's going on in Annapolis," Young said. "I've gone all over the state to many counties. People are clamoring for someone to get behind and people have encouraged me to run."

Maryland residents are tired of taxes and regulations, Young said.

"My record is crystal clear," he said. "Frederick County has shown it can live within its means."

One vote is all it would take, he said. As governor, he would promise to veto all tax or fee increases.

His plan for running?

"I'm going to be me," Young said. "I don't plan to be a phony. I just plan to give people straight answers and give them action."

Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, is serving his second term and cannot seek re-election.

Four Democrats -- three now serving in a statewide capacity -- have already expressed interest and raised significant money for a possible campaign.

Young said he has nothing in his campaign coffers and will not begin seeking donations until this summer.

"It's going to be about raising money and we'll see how it goes," Young said. "If it goes well, I'll take the next leap of faith."

Coming from rural Frederick County will be a challenge for Young in a statewide race, observers said.

"He's going to have to address different constituencies than he has in Frederick," Frederick Community College political science professor Michael Powell said. "He's going to have to think how he's going to take Baltimore city, Montgomery County and Prince George's County, which certainly have different constituencies than Frederick County."

According to the Maryland Board of Elections, a total of 390,004 voters were registered as of January in the five western counties that include Frederick.

By comparison, Prince George's and Montgomery have more than half a million voters each.

Baltimore city nearly matches the five-county total with 366,800.

Democrats also outnumber Republicans in the state by a 2-to-1 margin.

Young has taken conservative stances on issues such as immigration, taxes and growth, which could prove tough to sell to a statewide audience, Powell said.

"Is a true conservative electable in Maryland?" Powell asked. "I don't know. ... Blaine is going to have to reach out to a more middle-of-the-road, slash, liberal constituency. He's going to have to make more inroads to that middle-of-the-road pack."

Local and state Republican leaders were surprised by Thursday's announcement from Young, but indicated they were willing to support him in his exploration of a possible run.

Sen. David Brinkley, who leads the county's delegation in Annapolis, said he had not heard about Young's plans.

"It certainly would be colorful. ... Part of the big issue in politics is getting your message out," he said of the possible run. "(Young) certainly is successful in that. He has shown skill at that."

Steve Gottlieb, chairman of the Frederick County Republican Central Committee, said he would get behind supporting Young for governor.

If Young takes the same bold stances he took in running for county commissioner, Gottlieb said he predicted a chance for success.

"I think in Western Maryland he would have a good opportunity to make a splash," Gottlieb said. "He has name recognition out here. I think it would be a matter of whether the good-ol'-boy attitude will resonate in the rest of the state. ... I think Blaine stands as good a chance as anyone else to get name recognition in the state."

Young's honesty will be his ally, Gottlieb said.

"If he tells you something, that's exactly how he feels about something," Gottlieb said. "He's smart, he understands business finances; he shows a knack for government finance."

David Ferguson, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party, said the party will remain neutral early on and throughout the primary process, which is still two years away. Ferguson said there is a lot of excitement for Republicans to run, but Young is the first to officially announce his intent.

"It's good to see people who want to stand up for their rights and their constituents in Maryland," Ferguson said. "Potential candidate enthusiasm is through the roof. (Republicans) have an opportunity to be an alternative and not just an opposition."

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