When Valerie Ervin announced Thursday she would run for governor, she tapped as her running mate former Baltimore County School Board member Marisol Johnson.
The campaign hopes Johnson will help them in what is considered a key battleground in the governor’s race.
It’s a geographic flip. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz originally headed the ticket with Ervin, whose home base is Montgomery County, as his running mate. With Kamenetz’s death last week, Ervin is replacing him as the gubernatorial candidate, and Johnson, from Baltimore County, is number two.
Kamenetz was expected to do well in the county since it was his political home turf. Goucher College political science professor Mileah Kromer said now all the tickets in the crowded field for the Democratic nomination will be vying for votes in the county.
“Everybody has to do well in Baltimore County to win,” Kromer said.
And, Kromer added, since there is no clear frontrunner in the race, the Ervin-Johnson ticket has an opening. While serving on the school board does not exactly make you a household name, Kromer said Johnson may have connections with PTA moms and others who pay close attention to county education issues.
“And these might be the individuals who are willing to volunteer for a campaign or willing to spread the good word about a candidate they’ve had a positive relationship with,” Kromer said.
Johnson said she met Ervin just last week, at a fundraiser she was hosting for the Kamenetz-Ervin ticket. Johnson said it was about a 24-hour turnaround, from the campaign reaching out to her about running, until Thursday’s announcement. Johnson had withdrawn from a county council race earlier this year.
Johnson said that campaign experience, as well as serving on the school board and running a small business is helpful in the county.
“I have a good pulse on the county itself and the changes the county has endured during the last 10 or 15 years,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she and Ervin share a passion for education and that the time is right for women to run.
Johnson served five years on the Baltimore County School Board. Ervin’s experience includes stints on both the Montgomery County School Board and County Council.