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Peter V.R. Franchot announced Tuesday that he will not run for governor but will instead seek re-election as state comptroller in 2014.

“It is no secret that in recent months, I have given thought to running for governor,” Franchot (D) wrote on his campaign website and in an email to supporters. “I am humbled by the extraordinary support that my prospective campaign received in every corner of our state, and I am now more convinced than ever that there is a shared desire among Marylanders — irrespective of ideology or party affiliation — for an honest conversation of the fiscal and economic challenges that still lie ahead.”

Franchot said he was eager to continue the work of the comptroller’s office. As comptroller, Franchot holds one of the three seats on the state’s Board of Public Works, along with the governor and state treasurer. The board oversees awarding major state contracts.

“At the same time, I have relished the opportunity to serve as an independent voice and a tough fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers — whether by opposing wasteful spending on the Board of Public Works, fighting to hold the line on state debt, protecting tax filers from fraudulent preparers, or leading by example and doing a better job for less money within my own office,” Franchot said.

With Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) not seeking a third term because of the state’s two-term limit, Franchot was seen as one of the front-runners in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary, along with Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery).

Franchot's announcement came one day after he stopped by the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative’s headquarters in Hughesville to deliver a proclamation commending the co-op for its preparedness and speedy response during Superstorm Sandy.

SMECO assembled the largest response team in its 75-year history in the run-up to Sandy, putting together a workforce of 533 crewmen, including 175 of its own employees, 144 contractors, 122 tree workers and 92 linemen from Georgia and North Carolina.

More than 41,000 SMECO customers lost power during Sandy, but the co-op was able to restore power to all within hours of the storm’s leaving Southern Maryland. Afterward, SMECO sent crewmen to help the recovery efforts in Western Maryland.

“It’s really an unbelievable effort,” Franchot said. “Everyone was very impressed with you.”

Once Franchot finished reading the proclamation aloud to co-op executives, SMECO President and CEO Austin J. Slater couldn’t help but ask the state’s chief tax collector if he’d left anything out.

“You didn’t read the part that says we’ll give a $1 million credit on your next property tax bill,” Slater quipped.

Franchot stuck around to discuss what effect the struggling economy and looming federal budget crisis have had on SMECO, the completion of the co-op’s new Hughesville solar farm, the ongoing Southern Maryland Reliability Project and efforts to replace customers’ current electric meters with more advanced “smart meters.”

The comptroller also stopped by SMECO’s employee lunch room and call center to chat with some workers and capped off his visit by getting behind the wheel of the co-op’s restored 1939 Chevrolet line truck.

Franchot also visited Great Mills High School to present the first of his inaugural Golden Apple Awards, which recognize public school volunteers, to St. Mary’s County Council of PTAs President Trish Post.

He then headed to Leonardtown to promote his Shop Maryland for the Holidays initiative before arriving at SMECO's headquarters.

Franchot’s decision to run for comptroller led state Sen. James C. Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s, Anne Arundel), one of several potential candidates considering a comptroller bid, to announce he would seek re-election to the Senate.

“My travels around our state over the past year and a half, as I’ve explored running for comptroller, have allowed me to learn much more about the needs and aspirations of our people from the bay to the mountains, from inner cities and outer suburbs to small towns and farms,” Rosapepe said in a statement.

As comptroller, a position Franchot called his “dream job,” he is not constrained by term limits.

Franchot, a former delegate from Takoma Park, won election to the comptroller’s seat in 2006, first defeating former governor and then-incumbent Comptroller William Donald Schaefer in a hotly contested three-way Democratic primary; Franchot won with 36.5 percent of the vote. He won the general election with 59 percent of the vote, defeating Republican Anne M. McCarthy. He won re-election in 2010, defeating Republican William Henry Campbell 61 percent to 39 percent.

Staff writer Jeff Newman contributed to this report.

cford@gazette.net