Maryland Gov. Wes Moore is weighing in with his choice to lead state Democrats: Ken Ulman, a former Howard County executive who is president of a well-connected and influential consulting firm.
Ulman has a leadership style that “blends innovation and common sense,” Moore wrote in a letter to leaders of the Maryland Democratic Party on Monday.
“His diverse set of experiences, commitment to service, and proven track record of leadership will take this Party to new and exciting heights,” Moore wrote.
The position of Maryland Democratic Party chair is open following the decision of Yvette Lewis to step down this fall. Lewis led the party for the last four years as Democrats reclaimed the governor’s mansion and raised record sums of money. She also was party chair from 2011 through 2015.
As governor, Moore has an outsized voice in Democratic Party matters in the state; party leaders are expected to follow his recommendation.
Ulman, 49, was Howard County executive from 2006 through 2014. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Anthony Brown picked Ulman as his running mate for lieutenant governor in the 2014 election; the two lost to Republican Larry Hogan and his running mate, Boyd Rutherford.
From there, Ulman opened Margrave Strategies, a consulting firm that focuses on real estate development and economic development.
Ulman and Margrave are deeply involved in the growth of the University of Maryland, College Park. The firm also is involved with planning efforts to revive Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore; Margrave partner Bill Cole represents the City of Baltimore’s interests in ongoing negotiations.
Ulman also served as one of four co-chairs for Moore’s transition team. Ulman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Monday.
Moore also recommended Charlene Dukes to serve as first vice president of the Maryland Democratic Party.
Dukes was the first woman to serve as president of Prince George’s Community College and was co-chair of Path Forward, “a task force that worked to rebuild a stronger Prince George’s County in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Moore wrote.
“Our Party will deeply benefit from the determination she brings to each and every role she assumes, the passion she has for the next generation, and the keen ability she possesses to foster community,” Moore wrote. “She is a proven leader who, at her core, believes in the promise of our state and of our Party.”
Since Lewis’ resignation was effective Oct. 6, the state party has been led on an interim basis by Everett Browning, who was the party’s vice chair. The party has 60 days from Lewis’ resignation to hold an election for a new party chair.
Moore’s picks have the backing of Lewis, who said in a statement that she’s excited about Ulman and Dukes.
“Both are leaders in their respective communities and are committed to not only firing up our base but also growing our Party,” Lewis said in the statement.
The governor shared his recommendations with elected leaders in a call on Monday morning, and received favorable feedback from U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen and U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, according to Moore’s team.
Hoyer said in a statement that he was “thrilled” with Moore’s picks. “I know Ken and Charlene well, both of whom have deep political roots in our state, sharp political instincts, and will be assets for the party,” he said.