By Len Lazarick, Len@MarylandReporter.com
There was Hysteria for Comptroller Peter Franchot in Columbia Thursday evening. Or was it Franchot for Hysteria, a craft brewery in an industrial park?
The free beer and pizza for over 100 guests were part of Franchot’s continuing taproom tour across Maryland in his not-yet-official campaign for governor.
Franchot threw the happy hour to honor Hysteria as the winner of a contest he held for the favorite Maryland brewery to hang out. Franchot has championed the cause for relaxing the laws on local breweries – which the legislature loosened this year after behind the scenes negotiation between the big beer distributors and the local brewers.
As he stood behind the bar with a glass of dark Mother’s Milk [Tiramisu] stout in hand, Franchot praised the entrepreneurs and then passed the mic to the owners of the two-year-old brewery.
“Who was the one that talked about me running for governor?” Franchot asked.
That would be Rich Gue, who said the brewery wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for the comptroller. [CORRECTING the owner’s last name.]
“He’s running for governor,” said Gue.
Asked later about a run for governor, Franchot told me Gue “was just joshing.”
Maybe so, but this was a fourth happy hour at a Maryland brewery Franchot has hosted this year, and he has three more plus a crab feast at local breweries scheduled just in August. There were also four staff members on hand, including his campaign director with the next election three years away.
Franchot also handed off the mic to Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, who praised Franchot’s “wise use of our taxpayer’s dollars.” Ball then had to run off to a press conference for the surprise announcement that the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival was being moved from upstate New York to the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia.
Franchot is perhaps the most traveled elected official in Maryland. He hands out awards and citations to hundreds of local businesses and organizations each year.
On Thursday afternoon, he gave the Cornerstone Award for Local Business Excellence to Martha Clark and Clark’s Elioak Farm on Route 108 and a proclamation to Soft Stuff Ice Cream owner Michael Weal, in business for 35 years.
Franchot was re-elected to his fourth term as comptroller with 1,620,264 votes (72%) against a little known and underfunded Republican, more votes than any candidate for state office has ever received. As of January, he had slightly over $1 million in his campaign account.