Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, widely considered to be eyeing a race for governor in 2014, has hired the Democratic campaign aide credited with turning around John Delaney's successful run for Congress last year.
Justin Schall, who served as Delaney's campaign manager and worked as an aide to the congressman as he took office, will join Brown as a senior political advisor. The hire is a clear indication Brown is staffing up his political operation in anticipation of a statewide run.
Schall, 39, who previously managed campaigns in New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, splashed on to the Maryland political scene during last year's Democratic primary race in the 6th Congressional District. At the time, Delaney -- a first time candidate -- was considered the underdog against state Sen. Rob Garagiola for the nomination.
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Following a high-profile endorsement from former President Bill Clinton, significant fundraising -- including millions of his own money -- and a campaign that stuck closely to a message of dealing with the economy, Delaney won the primary by more than 25 percentage points and beat incumbent Republican Roscoe G. Bartlett in the general election by more than 20 percentage points.
"He brings a wealth of experience, political savvy and a steady hand to the table," Brown said of Schall in a statement. "I look forward to working with him to move Maryland forward."
The national and state political dynamics at play are worth noting. Schall was a former political aide for Hillary Clinton -- Delaney, a former Potomac banker, was a fundraiser for the Clinton family and other Democrats. Both Gov. Martin O'Malley and Brown backed Clinton in the 2008 primary against then Sen. Barack Obama.
Attorney General Doug Gansler, who many also believe is looking at a gubernatorial run, was the first statewide elected official in Maryland to support Obama.
At the state level, both O'Malley and Brown -- and many other establishment Democrats -- endorsed Garagiola against Delaney in the April congressional primary. Gansler did not endorse a candidate in that race.
"Justin's strategic insights, technical expertise, and leadership skills were central to the success of our campaign," Delaney said in a statement announcing Schall's hire. "He played a major role in defeating a twenty-year incumbent and as a first-time candidate Justin was a valued and trusted partner to me in both the campaign and the transition into Congress. I look forward to any opportunity to work with him again."
The hire is among the first signs of activitiy in the 2014 gubernatorial race, though the potential candidates are raising money. On the Democratic side, Brown raised slightly more last year but Gansler has a signficant advantage in cash on hand -- $5.2 million compared with $1.6 million for Brown.
The 2014 primary election takes place June 24.