By Andrew Gelman
SILVER SPRING, Md. — Montgomery County Executive-elect Marc Elrich nominated former Baltimore City Budget Director Andrew Kleine for Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) earlier this month in a move that many see as a potentially odd partnership.
Kleine, who resigned as Budget Director of Baltimore in November 2017 following a tumultuous career that saw both the recession of 2008 and conflict with the mayor and city council, is a fierce proponent of limited spending.
Elrich, on the other hand, built a reputation as a supporter of welfare programs, which tend to be expensive.
“I know that he is more fiscally conservative than my instincts might be,” conceded Elrich in a press release announcing the nomination. “I think that is a good thing. His innovative mind and fiscal expertise are exactly what we need to achieve big things at a time of constrained revenues.”
A CAO is the head of the departments in Montgomery County, representing the needs of all of the different institutions that make up the local government. CAOs recommend actions to the County Executive, working with the County Council to effect change.
They have to be able to compromise, but Kleine has been known to stir up conflict in the past. In late 2017, the Baltimore City Council voted to take away funds from his office.
The nomination of a fiscally conservative CAO for one of the state’s wealthiest, bluest counties could lead to further division within the Democratic Party in Montgomery County, which already saw a fair share of infighting during the nomination process. Six candidates were on the primary ballot before Elrich clinched the nomination.
Although Elrich has made promises to expand early childhood education, Kleine does not plan to have too many additional expensive welfare programs.
“It’s the people’s money,” Kleine said. “You have to be frugal.”
Kleine is currently the head of Elrich’s transition team.
Information from Ian Duncan’s November 7th, 2017 piece in the Baltimore Sun on the resignation of Kleine was used in this article.