Column: County Executive Says He's 'Looking Very Hard at' Running for Governor

Ken Ulman talked with Patch about whether the rumors in the blogosphere are true.

There is no one outside of Ken Ulman’s inner circle, or perhaps even outside of Ken Ulman himself, who can say for a definitive fact that Ken Ulman is running for governor of Maryland in 2014. But that doesn’t stop people from saying it.

People have been spreading rumors since Cain said he didn’t know where God could find Abel, and handicapping political races since an Athenian dropped the first stone.

Last March, in a post titled “Governor Ulman,” Ellicott City resident Dennis Lane, who writes the Tales of Two Cities blog, called an Ulman bid for governor “the worst kept secret in HoCo loco politico circles.”

Since then, bloggers and news organizations across the state have followed suit.

In August, writer David Moon inserted Ulman into his estimations on Maryland Juice, a blog about Maryland politics.

In November, an invitation to a fundraiser benefiting the Friends of Ken Ulman circulated online, billed as "the first opportunity to support Ken," who "now desires to attain the Governor’s seat for Maryland."

Within days, the Baltimore Sun ran an article that used the Ulman event as a springboard for a discussion on campaign fundraising. According to the article, Ulman and other potential gubernatorial candidates—comptroller Peter Franchot and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown—have hired professional fundraisers for the race which cost Gov. Martin O'Malley $10 million in 2010.

And the prognostications have begun in earnest across the Howard County blogosphere.

Tom Coale, who aggregates and analyzes regional news in his blog HocoRising, predicted where gubernatorial hopefuls would find support across the state, in a Jan. 11 post entitled "The Race for Second Place." According to Coale, "the winner of the primary will be whomever can grab the most votes in their 'home base' and get second place in as many other counties as possible."

But does the county executive read these blogs? Does he know about the concerns of Patch commenters, Twitter followers and Facebook stalkers? Does venting one’s spleen online make a difference?

“Generally, I’m aware of what’s being said online,” said Ulman in a phone interview this week. “I’m big on social media.”

Ulman admitted he can’t read every word that’s put out there but said that he and his staff pay close attention to the rumors swirling around the local watering holes.

“We work hard not to get caught up in [negative comments],” said Ulman. He noted that constructive criticism will not be deleted from his Facebook page.

Facebook criticism ranges from opposition to Ulman attending a menorah lighting (“I am opposed to all public religious observances, and would prefer that my elected officials observe their holidays privately, thank you,” wrote one citizen on Dec. 21) to pleas for improved transportation for seniors.

Social media “gives people a voice,” said Ulman, pointing to the blizzards of last winter as a success for his social media presence. Through the Ken Ulman and Howard County Twitter feeds, the public could see everything from power outages to snow plow locations (although not, perhaps, simultaneously) in near-real time.

“We’re one of the  in the country,” said Ulman.

As such, Howard County citizens also expect a lot of their media outlets, and blogs are helping fill roles formerly met by the bastions of traditional media.

Ulman recalled being asked to lunch by editors from The Washington Post, only to be told they were closing their Howard County office. Howard County wouldn’t be forgotten, he was told, but it was clear large media outlets were retreating from local coverage to concentrate on national issues.

Today, if you go to the Washington Post’s online Howard County section, you’ll see headlines from 2005. It’s the journalistic equivalent of a ghost town. If you go to the “Local” section for Howard County, headlines feature Alexandria, VA, and Washington, D.C.

Blogs, on the front line of community involvement, act as forums where local issues can be discussed in depth and with a passion not found on the pages of a large newspaper. It would be difficult to thoroughly dissect the pros and cons of turf fields during an evening newscast, for instance, or find the column inches needed to break down every possibility in a local school board race, but there will be a blogger addressing the issue to your satisfaction—and beyond.

Kirsten Coombs, a Columbia resident and frequent Patch and blog reader, said she found value in the depth of local coverage provided by less orthodox forms of media.

“I hope that social media looks at issues that are bigger than just ‘Will he raise my taxes?’" said Coombs. "Newspapers like the [Washington Post] or [Baltimore Sun] aren't going to focus more than a few inches a day on [a local] race and it'll likely focus on the name-calling part of the race with little room on substance.”

Citizens, more than ever, have a way for their voice to be heard, to engage their representatives and know that the message is being heard. Although it may increase the “torches and pitchforks” attitude, as Coale says, it’s also “good for honest government and community involvement.”

Ulman reads local blogs, and hey, he might be governor some day. For the record, the rumor of a gubernatorial run remains, for the moment, just that.

“I’m looking very hard at it,” said Ulman, but for now, he will “just keep doing what I’m doing.”

The gubernatorial primary is June 24, 2014.


MG42 January 13, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Of course Ken wants to run for Governor, I don't why he's trying to sound so coy. The problem he faces is that he's not well known outside of the small pond of Howard County. It's pretty hard to mess up the Fantasy Land of Howard County, other parts of the state have real problems. The whole reason he funded the failed Healthy Howard program was a desperate attempt to market himself state-wide. I doubt that his name comes up as a potential candidate outside of HoCo very often.
oldmantroy January 14, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Dear brainless chap by the name of Ohai. you love to put down the HC gov where ever you post your sorry little coments. i am astounded again and again at you lack of brain matter..... it really shows. hey, i heard they are having a sale at walmart for extra brain boosters!!! you should check it out.
MG42 January 14, 2012 at 02:10 PM
@oldmantroy- your well reasoned comment on the merits of Ken's gubernatorial chances have completely changed my mind on the matter. LMAO
oldmantroy January 14, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Guys, Guys Guys?!?! anyone out there??? we are being over taken by some one short on brain wattage... ohai, why dont u just up and leave hc if ur so opposed to them?! did something happen that really popped ur bubble? did u finally realize that your nothing but a worthless piece of garbage? man.....you are so fubar
MG42 January 14, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Thank you, Ken Ulman supporter, for your very intelligent comments. A+!
oldmantroy January 14, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Ahh thankyou! Im very glad you finally came around to see the good in our wonderful county exectutive. we all need to be more appricaitve of our governemnt. it is very easy to arm-chair quarterback the goings on around us, but it is actually harder to perform. A good day to you sir/ma'am. Take care.
MG42 January 14, 2012 at 08:33 PM
And I'd like to thank you, oldmantroy, for calling me brainless, a worthless piece of garbage, and fubar. Ken sure is lucky to have such articulate and intelligent supporters as yourself! Take care, buddy!
James Smith January 14, 2012 at 09:55 PM
Ohai. why are you giving the Howard County gov such a tough time? as oldmantroy said, if you dont like the way things are run, just up and move man!! personally, i love this county and i dont think i want to call any other county my home.
MG42 January 14, 2012 at 11:56 PM
Are you high? I suggested that Ken was not the most popular guy in the state, and one of his supporters comes right out of the gate telling me that I'm brainless, a worthless piece of trash, fubar, and then suggests that I should move out of the county rather than exercise my first amendment right. And you think I'm the one giving someone a hard time? I sure am sorry to hear that Ken is such a delicate flower. Let me spin that around on you, J-dog. Perhaps Ken should move away and go be the County Executive in some dump like PG County? Since he's such a miracle worker I'm sure he'd have no problem turning a place like that around.
James Smith January 15, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Whoa whoa man, why are you coming out guns blazing at me?? I know you've got a whole laundry list of names from the other guy lol kinda funny-you deserve it b/c u egged him on-- but what did i do?! One thing is for sure though, you troll around looking to post negative comments in regard to the county. Just look at the article about the quotas. Your all over the chief there too. Look man, you are some mistaken, misguided, poor chap. HC is a wonderful place to live. and it would be better if trolls/troublemakers like you didn't live here. You should move to PGCnty and then we wont have to hear your unbearable whining. Hopefully that will give you some food for thought....that way your mouth will be stuffed and we wont be able to hear you any how. Either way i think its kinda funny actually how this battle has gone back and forth. So effective immediately, I'm ending my posts. Go fishing&take a day off from trolling.
MG42 January 15, 2012 at 03:57 AM
My response wasn't "guns blazing" at all but I can understand how a more effeminate male might take it that way. Sorry to upset you by criticizing your hero! Hey, if it makes you feel better I honestly think that Ken wears very comfortable shoes.
Jason Keyes January 16, 2012 at 02:44 AM
If he fires the Police Chief for having DUI quotas, I might think about voting for him.
Jason Keyes January 16, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Saying Ohai egged him on is ludicrous. You should have ended your posting sooner.
George Spencer February 29, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Opinions~MD needs cognizant different thinking leadership who: ~Personally ID’s w/priv sector citiz money struggles ~Create an envir to grow, reverse trends of Biz/Job loss ~Lower tax to avg US levels~VS~rote increases MD Citiz Resid and Biz pay 5th highest tax in the nation. Re:~Alman~young&exhibits acumen to manage&walk political tight ropes ~~However~~would benefit from specific Trn & Exp in the priv sector citiz shoes w/wages pd by P&L Biz at Citiz/small Biz reality boot camp: 1.) Kinesthetic Citiz Reality Trn ~(Kinesthetic is learning to ride a bike by actually getting on the bike & riding, not just hearing or talking about how to do it.) Ken~a 6 mo sab~move & live in Hancock-Cumberland-Hagerstown-Arbutus-Elkton etc. $12-20 hr priv sector job in that econ. Use wage for 2 bdrm shelter, buy 8-10yr old car-w/paymts-car ins-util-cable-groc-gas-1 dental ck-up w/o ins unless emplr offers 2.) Cost Accounting Trn ~Compl Coll biz Cost Acc'ting course at night. 3.) Six Sigma Trn and Cert ~(Six Sigma ~systematic approach by orgs to enhance rev-overall task perf-productivity-reduce orgs work cost & improve customer satis. Follows discipl techniq to reduce ops cost & end prob. (defects/errors/bugs). Six Sigma is a proven approach. 4.) Read "It’s Your Ship"~TRUE exper doing mgt techniq that create motivating support for gov thinking and deeds~result~“Best Damn Ship" in the regulated Navy By D. Michael Abrasgoff. Make MD~“Best Damn State in the US


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