Maryland candidate for governor John B. King has tapped Michelle Siri, the executive director of the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, to run for lieutenant governor together on a ticket later this year.
King, a Democrat who served as education secretary during former President Barack Obama’s second term, said Siri’s “deep dedication to public service and our shared commitment to justice, community, and belief in the transformative power of good government” made her “the perfect choice” to join his ticket in the campaign.
“Michelle Siri is an experienced and proven leader, a tireless champion for Maryland women, and I am excited and grateful to have her as a partner on our campaign,” King said in a statement announcing the decision.
Siri, a 44-year-old attorney who lives in Cockeysville, has led the legal advocacy group for the past seven years and previously served as board chair of Planned Parenthood of Maryland. She also previously worked as an assistant state attorney general and a lawyer in private practice.
She said she plans to use her role in the campaign and, if elected, as lieutenant governor to push for a range of progressive women’s rights and family policies that she has backed for years.
“I’ve really tried to spend my career fighting for the women of Maryland and for families,” Siri said in an interview Monday with The Baltimore Sun. “This is a really amazing opportunity to take that advocacy … and be part of governing around the values and principles I believe in.”
Among those issues, Siri said, would be requiring expanded paid family leave for workers in Maryland, finding ways to narrow gender pay gaps between women and men, and further enshrining abortion rights in Maryland law.
Siri, who was born in the United States but spent most of her first two years of childhood in Iran before her family fled ahead of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, said her views on women’s rights were shaped in part by the repressive revolutionary regime in her mother’s home country.
King, Siri said, offered her the chance to be a political partner — not a “figurehead” of a running mate — and she was also drawn to the former federal cabinet official’s interest in the wonky details of public policy. The pair, according to Siri, share a “belief in the power of government and public institutions as a force for good in people’s lives.”
Siri has not previously run for elected office but said she would bring years of experience as a policy advocate pushing for legislation and the perspective of a relative political outsider to the position.
King, 47, served as New York’s state commissioner of education from 2011 to 2015 before joining the Obama administration. The Silver Spring Democrat began his career as a civics and history teacher in New York City, Puerto Rico and Boston, and also worked as a principal and school administrator.
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King is one of eight Democrats currently contending for the party’s nomination for governor in June’s primary election. Current Gov. Larry Hogan, a second-term Republican, is term-limited and not running for reelection.
Candidates have until Feb. 22 to file paperwork to run for office, including naming a running mate. King is the fourth Democrat to publicly naming who will join him on a ticket for lieutenant governor.
Rushern L. Baker III, a former Prince George’s County executive, has teamed up with Nancy Navarro, a member of the Montgomery County Council. Peter Franchot, the state comptroller, selected Monique Anderson-Walker, who resigned from the Prince George’s County Council after joining the campaign. And author and nonprofit executive Wes Moore picked Aruna Miller, a former state delegate and congressional candidate from Montgomery County.
The other Democrats in the race are Doug Gansler, a former state attorney general; Tom Perez, a former state and federal labor secretary and former chair of the Democratic National Committee; Jon Baron, who works in public policy for a philanthropic foundation; Ashwani Jain, who held positions in the Obama White House; and Jerome Segal, who had founded the socialist Bread and Roses Party but switched his affiliation to Democrat after the party disbanded.
Republican Kelly Schulz, the current state commerce secretary under Hogan, has announced plans to run for governor. So too has right-wing Del. Dan Cox, endorsed by former President Donald Trump, who is running on a ticket with attorney and conservative activist Gordana Schifanelli.
Perennial candidate Robin Ficker, who regularly runs for a variety of offices on an anti-tax platform, is running as a Republican as well. Baltimore County resident Joe Werner filed candidacy paperwork as a Republican with Minh Thanh Long as his running mate.