Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Maryland 2014: Will Kevin Walk the Gubernatorial Plank?

Rumors...I hear rumors...

Indeed, one of the hazards of bloggings is that, very often, you catch people trying to feed you half-baked rumors in the hopes that you will write about them.

Occasionally, these rumors are nasty and spiteful, as was the case with some of the chatter surrounding both recent primaries in the 6th Congressional District.

Other times, the rumors aren’t nasty or salacious, but brush up against the edges of credibility.

In any event, rumor leakers often approach bloggers first in order to punt something into the public domain in the hopes that someone in the so-called mainstream press will pick up the ball and run with it.

I try to proceed with caution in this area. Generally, if I hear the same rumor from two disparate sources, I will report what I heard as a rumor making the rounds of the gossip mill. 

It is in that vein that I report the following…

Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour – a local business success stories and one of the few remaining marquee companies to be headquartered in Baltimore – is said to be considering a run for the GOP nomination for governor of Maryland.

According to my source, he is being actively courted by business community stalwarts who are not necessarily tied in to state GOP politics. Further, I was told that “polling” has been done in support of a possible Plank candidacy (although, this far out from 2014, I’m not sure what polling could accomplish, other than to demonstrate that most people familiar with Under Armour don’t know the name of its CEO).

When I first heard this item from someone with ties to MD GOP circles, I dismissed it. But later I heard it from someone not tied into GOP politics at all, validating for me the fact that, minimally, there are efforts underway to plant it across the political landscape. 

Based on what I have heard from sources, different scenarios may explain the recent Plank talk.

First, there is the Cincinnatus scenario. 

Kevin Plank is a bona fide local success story. And like many successful businessmen, he is said to believe that his experience in the business community makes him uniquely qualified to a step up, handle the mess in Annapolis, and return to his company when the job is done.

What’s more, his mother, Jayne Plank, was active in national GOP politics for a long time, so he is not entirely disconnected with the political world. And, of course, he has an ability to self-finance. 

Second, there is the organic groundswell of support scenario. 

There has always been a divide between Maryland’s business community, predominately Republican or GOP-leaning in terms of ideology, and the GOP political establishment. Bob Ehrlich temporarily bridged that gap, but for the most part, business leaders like to deal with reality. And, the reality in Maryland is that Democrats dominate everything.

Therefore, for some members of the state’s business community, the argument goes, supporting a businessman who can self-finance, and who is known more for his ties to a product identified closely with a popular sports franchise than his party label might be the best chance to effect change in Maryland.

The success of wealthy financier John Delaney, who beat the establishment-sanctioned Senator Rob Garagiola for the Democratic congressional nomination in the 6th District, may be fueling the Plank push.

But, virtually all of the state's senior political leaders come from the political class, so I am not sure I believe a local version of Rick Snyder (the businessman turned Governor of Michigan) is in the cards here.

Then, there is the Aris scenario.

In other words, there are indications that the Plank push may be originating from a coterie of former  DBED aides led by former Secretary Aris Melissaratos.

Now a senior adviser to the president of Johns Hopkins University, the former secretary has kept his hand in the political mix. Melissaratos is a Democrat, and his party's 2014 gubernatorial field is already pretty crowded by candidates and influencers. If Melissaratos is looking to play a kingmaker's role in the next gubernatorial election, his only credible chance would be through the candidacy of someone like Plank, with whom he has historically had a strong relationship.

Of these three scenarios, I give the last the most credibility. Anyway, I have reached out to Secretary Melissaratos and asked him to elaborate on this matter. When we have a chance to speak, I will do a follow-up blog post.

Meanwhile, Plank is said to be waiting for the results of the November elections before deciding on the feasibility of a run, which would require the sign-off of Under Armour’s board, but may test the political waters by attending the GOP convention in Tampa in 2012.  

Still, I have a hard time believing that it will actually happen. 

Regardless, if it does, just remember you heard it here first, folks. 

1 comment:

  1. Roger Hammond19 June, 2012 17:34

    I really like the idea of a Republican governor, but if we can't get rid of Busch and/or Miller we have the same problems we had during Ehrlich's tenure.