Comptrollers Powers

In a Feb. 21 photo, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, left, criticizes legislation that would remove regulatory powers over alcohol, tobacco and gasoline from his office during a news conference in Annapolis, Md. Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot says he’s “strongly considering” running for governor in 2022.

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot told supporters Wednesday that he’s “strongly considering” running for governor in 2022.

Franchot is a Democrat, though he has long been at odds with leaders in his own party in Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1.

Still, he has repeatedly cruised to reelection to the statewide office of comptroller by large margins. He won his fourth term last year with more than 1.6 million votes, or about 72%.

In a fundraising letter, he noted that as the state’s tax collector he got refunds to residents in less than three business days, recaptured delinquent taxes and successfully fought tax fraud and identity theft.

“Given our record, and given the challenges and opportunities facing our great state, I am strongly considering running for governor in 2022,” Franchot wrote.

He also underscored his battles with Democrats who control the Maryland General Assembly as evidence he is an independent voice in state government.

“It’s no secret that the political insiders that make up the Annapolis Machine aren’t my biggest fans, and they will surely mount an impressive effort to support their anointed candidate,” Franchot wrote, announcing a Labor Day fundraising goal of $22,000 “for the 2022 campaign.”

Franchot’s battle with Democratic lawmakers was on full display this year, when lawmakers voted to curtail the powers of the comptroller’s office by removing its regulatory authority over alcohol, tobacco and gasoline.

The General Assembly even overrode a veto from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to do it.

Franchot has frustrated members of his party over the years by opposing spending practices during the Great Recession and the push to expand gambling in the state. His support of Hogan on the Board of Public Works, the powerful panel that approves most state contracts, hasn’t helped his relationship with the state’s Democrats.

Hogan, who last year became only the second Republican in the state’s history to win reelection, is term limited. Last year’s race for governor featured a crowded Democratic primary.

Franchot was first elected comptroller in 2006, after winning an upset victory in a three-way Democratic primary and defeating William Donald Schaefer, who had been a formidable Maryland politician as governor, comptroller and mayor of Baltimore. Schaefer died in 2011.

Franchot, who is 71, had considered running for governor in 2014, but decided instead to run for a third term as comptroller.

Before becoming comptroller, he served for two decades as a member of the House of Delegates, representing liberal Takoma Park in Montgomery County in the suburbs of the nation’s capital. Since winning statewide office, however, Franchot has moved closer to the political middle on fiscal matters.

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