Democratic Party picks new director
Maryland Democrats have named State House veteran Patrick Murray as their executive director as the state party continues to regroup in the wake of last year’s gubernatorial loss.
Currently the director of state affairs at Johns Hopkins University, Murray worked as an aide in the General Assembly to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel).
He ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat in the House of Delegates. Murray has also served as executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party, an experience that state Democratic Party Chairman D. Bruce Poole said was key to the choice.
Murray’s selection, first reported by the blog Center Maryland, was announced in an e-mail from Poole to fellow Democratic leaders Friday afternoon. There were nearly 30 applicants for the position, Poole said, which was narrowed to five finalists interviewed by a search committee.
Busch said he was pleased with Poole’s selection of Murray.
“He has a thorough understanding not only of the party, but understands the General Assembly and the numerous congressional districts,” Busch said. “I know they had a lot of good candidates, but Patrick Murray will stand out as executive director.”
Busch, who was instrumental in Poole’s selection as chairman, said he plans to continue to play a key role in the party’s future and looks forward to Poole and Murray moving the party forward.
Busch said the goals for the party are to increase registration and turnout, to raise money, to recruit candidates and to defend seats.
“The last election proved certainly that there is a challenge out there,” Busch said. “Obviously after the last election, you have to be introspective. And with the national election coming up, wehave to look at how do you engage your base.”
Then-Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown lost the 2014 gubernatorial election to Larry Hogan (R), a stunning upset in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1. The Democrats also lost several legislative seats but retained strong majorities in both chambers.
Since that election, Democrats have been focused on revamping the party and their strategy in time for next year. More changes will be coming, Poole said, as Democrats “start working on the details of being an effective, modern political organization.”
“We have to win in 2016, which may sound relatively simplistic, but that is a matter of getting the candidates focused and getting the campaigns running smoothly,” Poole said. “I think we were off message in 2014. I think we made a real mistake of not being on the offense and talking about the positives of Maryland and positive accomplishments of Maryland Democrats.”
As executive director, Murray will be in charge of the day-to-day work of the party organization. He will begin in his post early in July, Poole said, although his appointment will not be official until the party executive committee meets later in the month.
Poole took over the chairmanship from Yvette Lewis, who left in March.