Franchot: “Happy Comptroller”

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Comptroller Peter Franchot sat down for an interview with Bryan Sears of the Daily Record (behind a pay wall) recently, and had a whole lot to say about a whole lot of topics.

In the decade since being elected comptroller, Peter Franchot has built a reputation as a former delegate and Takoma Park liberal turned fiscal conservative, an independent voice on the Board of Public Works and a more-than-occasional thorn in the side of governors, legislative leaders, county executives and school officials.
In the last two years, Democrat Franchot has used the Board of Public Works as a bully pulpit, developed a “strategic partnership” with Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and become ostracized by many in his own party. He’s become a populist favorite in many parts of the state and also a target of fellow Democrats Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and House Speaker Michael E. Busch.

The two dismiss him as a grandstander; he calls them the “political machine in Annapolis.”

In a recent interview with The Daily Record, Franchot discussed his role on the board, his evolving relationship with Hogan, his efforts to expand the powers of his agency to fight tax fraud and what he sees as political retribution from Miller and Busch.

On the fight over air conditioning in schools:

It just strikes me as highly unusual and highly irregular for this to be, for these lines to be drawn where the governor and I are in favor of air conditioning and in favor of school maintenance and the other side seems to be, ‘No, no no.’ And who is the other side? The other side tends to be identified closely with the political machine that controls Annapolis. And for better or for worse, that’s made up of Democrats. I don’t think it particularly represents the Democratic Party because we’re a party with proud ideals. But, it certainly represents Annapolis machine politics.

On potential challengers to his position as Comptroller:

I think what happens is every election cycle somebody says, ‘Hey, maybe we can create some static for Franchot.’ I’m the top vote-getter as far as the Democrats. I have $1.5 million in the bank. I’ll have $2 million by the end of this fiscal year. I am an absolute happy warrior and am very comfortable with what I’ve done as comptroller because I think it is exactly what the people of the state want. They want our different Republicans and Democrats to roll up their sleeves and work together in a true bipartisan way. They could care less about the political machine in Annapolis. And the political machine has, well let’s put it this way, it’s very reduced in size and the Democratic base that elected me 10 years ago is still solidly with me.

So why not run for governor?

Because I’m a very happy comptroller. Someone once said the sign of a mature person is turning down a promotion. I’m happy with what I’m doing. Being governor is obviously an honor and a privilege. But it also is something that is pretty draining as far as the demands. I’m a new grandparent, my first grandchild. I’m leaving to go up to New York to see Baby Viv, who is a few weeks old and, you know, you don’t have that flexibility if you’re governor and have to be consumed with all things about being governor.

As I’ve said before, whatever else you want to say about Frnchot, he ain’t bashful. I’m working on developing some rumors on who might in fact run against him in 2018, and I expect to have some more to say about that later this week. Stay tuned.

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