Bowie mayor considers running for Maryland comptroller

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Bowie Mayor Timothy Adams (D) announced Tuesday that he’s mulling a run for comptroller in 2022, and has created an exploratory committee to plan for what will likely be a hotly contested race.

Adams, the first-ever Black mayor of Bowie and founder of a multimillion-dollar contracting firm, said in a news release that Maryland’s tax policies are “geared to protect international corporations,” and fall short of helping working class families and small businesses.

“For all of our state’s bankable economic assets, Maryland’s economy continues to fall short of its potential, and far too many people are being left behind with no hope of a better future,” Adams said. “Our state’s actions just don’t live up to the rhetoric of our leaders.”

He further charged that the state’s procurement system favors vendors with expensive lobbyists and connections instead of being a truly competitive process.

Adams has long worked up close with government contracting: He’s the founder, president and CEO of Systems Applications & Technologies, Inc, an Upper Marlboro-based security contracting firm with nearly $100 million in annual revenue.

Timothy J. Adams is the mayor of Bowie. (Courtesy City of Bowie)
He highlighted that business experience in his Tuesday morning announcement, and argued that Maryland’s next tax collector ― and fiscal watchdog ― needs a “true commitment to accountability, justice and change.”

“Some would say that fiscal accountability and economic justice are contradictory goals,” Adams said. “I strongly disagree ― my experience has shown that we must have the former in order to achieve the latter. Until we get our fiscal house in order and build a 21st century economy that actually offers opportunity to all Marylanders, we will not be able to sustain our investments in those priorities that matter to all of us.”

If elected, Adams would be the state’s first Black comptroller ― and Maryland’s first Black independently elected statewide official. The state’s last three lieutenant governors have been Black, but they were elected on tickets headed by white gubernatorial candidates.

Adams has enlisted Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha N. Braveboy (D) to be the chairwoman of his exploratory committee, and Prince George’s County Board of Education member David Murray as coordinator.

Len Foxwell, the former chief of staff to Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D) who recently opened his own political communications firm, is serving as a consultant to Adams, and Anthony McCarthy, a former Baltimore radio personality who runs his own communications shop and is close to U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) and other elected officials, is also working on the campaign.

Adams isn’t the only one vying for Franchot’s soon-to-be open seat as the four-term comptroller runs for governor in 2022. Del. Brooke E. Lierman (D-Baltimore City) announced her own comptroller campaign last month. Lierman would also be a trailblazer if she were elected: Other than former five-term U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), no woman has independently won statewide office in Maryland.

Lierman’s announcement included endorsements from many of her legislative allies. She’s holding a slew of virtual kickoff events for different areas of the state throughout this week.

Lierman’s initial list of supporters includes nine state senators, 29 of her House colleagues, former U.S. Rep. Beverly Byron (D-Md.), former Anne Arundel County executive Laura Neuman, former Baltimore County executive Don Mohler, ex-state legislators, and scores of current and former local elected officials.

Adams, who was elected mayor of Bowie in 2019, will attempt to make a virtue of the endorsement disparity. In 2018, he unsuccessfully challenged state Sen. Douglas J.J. Peters in the Democratic primary, casting himself as an insurgent against a veteran officeholder with massive institutional support. He lost by more than 18 points.

Josh Kurtz contributed to this report.