Chrys Kefalas, an openly gay former aide to former Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R), on Tuesday officially entered the 2016 race for the GOP nomination for Maryland’s open U.S. Senate seat.
Kefalas, the grandson of Greek immigrants, announced his candidacy during an appearance on On the Record with Greta Van Susteren on FOX News, telling Van Susteren that he was running to “restore the American Dream, a dream that inspired my grandparents to come to the United States, settle in Baltimore and raise a family.”
“Marylanders have needed a different direction for a long time. Thirty years of failures they’ve dealt with,” he said, a reference to the 30-year career of retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D), whom he is seeking to replace. “…I’m going to run for the United States Senate to represent the people of Maryland, who deserve more jobs, fewer funerals.”
Kefalas, who currently works for the National Association of Manufacturers, previously served as deputy legal counsel to Ehrlich, a speechwriter for Attorney General Eric Holder and a lawyer for the Department of Justice under the Obama administration. In his FOX News interview, he cited current Gov. Larry Hogan (R) as an example of how a Republican can win in a Democratic-leaning state like Maryland.
Asked about his status as an openly gay Republican, Kefalas told Van Susteren that the issue doesn’t come up when he speaks to voters, saying they prefer to ask about how to create more jobs, strengthen the middle class, and improve national security.
In his bid for his party’s nomination, Kefalas will face Del. Kathy Szeliga, the minority whip in the Maryland House of Delegates, Richard Douglas, a former Pentagon official, and Anthony Seda, a Navy veteran. Among those, Szeliga — who was first elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010– holds the edge, due to her connections as a member of House leadership, and her former position as chief of staff for then-State Sen. Andy Harris (R), now a U.S. congressman and one of the most hard-line conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives.
A Baltimore Sun/University of Baltimore poll of the potential Republican primary field from last month showed Szeliga leading with 15 percent, followed by Douglas with 9 percent, Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, who is considering a campaign, with 8 percent, Kefalas with 5 percent and Seda with 4 percent. But 59 percent of Maryland Republicans have still not decided whom they will support. Whomever emerges from the fray will likely face an uphill battle against the winner of the Democratic primary, as Democrats hold a 2-1 registration edge in the state. The battle for the Democratic nomination is currently being waged between U.S. Reps. Chris Van Hollen and Donna Edwards.