WASHINGTON, July 22, 2013 — History is being made as Maryland State Delegate Heather Mizeur (D), the nation’s first openly gay gubernatorial candidate, announces she is running for governor of Maryland. If she wins the very competitive race, she would also be the state’s first woman governor.
Mizeur’s stepping into the race shows how rapidly times have changed in the last few years as old shibboleths against gay marriage and the LGBT community have fallen. She herself led the ultimately successful fight for marriage equality in Maryland, making a passionate speech from the floor of the Maryland Assembly last year that went viral. ( see video below)
Yet Mizeur says, “The fact that I a woman or an openly gay one is usually the least interesting thing about me.”
She explains further, “I’m not running to make history, I’m running to make a difference. That said, I am proud of the chance to break these important barriers for women and the LGBT community. … Marylanders will make this choice based on what’s best for the future of our state.
“I am the best candidate. And besides, there is no one label that can be used to define me. I’m a 5th generation farming kid. I grew up on a union picket line and spent my summers working in cornfields. I’m at my happiest walking through the woods on my farm in Chestertown. It just happens that the person I want to grow old with is a woman.”
A popular Maryland legislator for the past seven years, Mizeur is expected to bring the same kind of hard work ethic she has shown in the state legislature, “expanding health care coverage to uninsured children, young adults, foster kids; family planning services for women; protecting our environment and public health against unregulated natural gas fracking; and engaging in an incredibly personal way with my colleagues to help secure votes for passage of our marriage equality law in 2012.”
But Mizeur also sees that there is more work to be done and because of the nation’s sluggish economy, she believes the biggest challenge facing Maryland will be “Creating an economy that works for all of our families. We have a shrinking middle class in Maryland and that worries me. I’m from a family that struggled to make ends meet. My father was a union factory welder his entire career.
“I think we need to start having broader conversations about how we can all succeed in our economy instead of limited approaches that create winners and losers. We can assure worker benefits and fair wages while also offering small business tax relief if we ask some of the giant corporations in this state to start paying their fair share in exchange for an overhaul of certain regulations that make it too complicated for a business to thrive in Maryland.”
To achieve her goals for Maryland, she sees five areas that she would address:
* “Creating a sustainable economy with jobs that lift our communities up
* “Establishing a statewide community service corps in Maryland
* “Education reform to assure top schools in every
community and freeing educators to bring creativity into the classroom rather than teaching for test results
* “Ongoing environmental protections and improvements;
* “And systemic reforms like ending the cradle to prison pipeline for our youth through an aggressive rethinking of our criminal justice system.”
Mizeur admits that “It’s not a secret I’ve been considering this [running for governor] for a while,” and as she crisscrossed the state last year talking about marriage equality, the DREAM Act and President Obama, she was getting “a lot of encouragement to take a look at this step.”
Since Governor Martin O’Malley, who is eyeing the 2016 presidential race, is term-limited, the race for his seat is wide open and the Democratic primary is expected to be rough and tumble. Two-term Lt. Governor Anthony Brown is also running, hoping to be the first African American governor of the state. Maryland’s Attorney General Doug Gansler is expected to announce his candidacy any day. Also there is talk that Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger will throw his hat into the ring as well.
Mizeur welcomes the competition, saying, “I love the democratic process and I’m glad to see it at work. Voters will have a lot of choices about the direction they’d like to see for Maryland and that’s the way it should be.
“I know I am the best candidate with the most compelling record of accomplishments and innovative vision for the future and I am excited by the enthusiasm we are generating among my supporters for this campaign.”
So while there may be some exciting gubernatorial races in November 2014, including Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Virginia, and even South Carolina, Maryland’s Democratic primary will be one to watch next June 24, 2014. Whoever wins will most likely move into the governor’s mansion since Maryland is overwhelmingly blue. And Heather Mizeur is determined to make it her new home.
To learn more about Heather Mizeur, go to her website at Heather Mizeur for Governor
To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.
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