Chuck Conner is a political novice in many respects, but officials with the Maryland Democratic Party saw two things in him that they wanted in their new executive director: a common touch and experience with community outreach.
Party chairman Bruce Poole said those qualifications made Conner, a fourth-generation pastor with a law degree, an easy choice to lead day-to-day operations after Patrick Murray left the position to head the U.S. Senate campaign of Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D) in May. Conner, 33, had been the state party’s outreach director since January.
“We had plaudits from people who were never connected with the party before,” Poole said. “We sent him out to a lot of African American churches and tried to reach out to black and Hispanic communities. People came back and said, ‘We like this guy.’ ”
Reconnecting with community leaders and grass-roots organizations has been a primary focus for the state party since losing the governorship and nine seats in the General Assembly nearly two years ago.
“Right now, the party is in trouble in terms of its bench,” said Donald Norris, director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland at Baltimore County. “What’s going to help the party is someone who can rebuild.”