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John King Picks Head of Women’s Law Center as Running Mate

1/5/2022 | Josh Kurtz

Maryland Matters

John B. King Jr. (D), the former Obama administration education secretary who is running for governor, announced Wednesday morning that Michelle Daugherty Siri, the executive director of The Women’s Law Center of Maryland, will join his ticket as the candidate for lieutenant governor.

“Michelle Siri is an experienced and proven leader, a tireless champion for Maryland women, and I am excited and grateful to have her as a partner on our campaign,” King said in a statement. “Her deep dedication to public service and our shared commitment to justice, community, and belief in the transformative power of good government made it immediately clear that she was the perfect choice.”

King becomes the fourth Democratic candidate for governor to select a running mate, and all have chosen women of color to join their tickets. Siri, a first generation Iranian-American, is the only Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor who has not served in elected office.

Still, she brings policy gravitas and a wealth of contacts and admirers among liberal activists and politically minded women to King’s ticket, and reinforces his campaign narrative that he is a consistent progressive champion. She has spent the past seven years as executive director of The Women’s Law Center of Maryland, a Towson-based nonprofit that provides legal services and legislative advocacy on an array of issues.

Prior to that, Siri spent six years as an assistant attorney general in Maryland under former attorney general Douglas F. Gansler — one of King’s opponents for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination — and also worked for the Social Security Administration and in private practice. She is also a former president of the board at Planned Parenthood Maryland.

Siri lives in Cockeysville with her husband and two sons.

“Michelle Siri is one of the most intelligent, inspiring, focused, and effective advocates for women, children, and families in Maryland,” Melissa Curtin, a board member of Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women said in a statement provided by the King campaign. Curtin said Siri “knows policy — and politics — and…understands every seat at the State House table.”

The King campaign is also touting Siri’s immigrant roots — and believes her life story complements King’s own hardscrabble upbringing.

Siri’s father is the son of an Ohio coal miner and her mother is an Iranian immigrant. Siri was born in the United States but spent the most of the first two years of her life in Iran until her family was forced to flee Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime preceding the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Siri said she “couldn’t be more excited” to partner with King.

“I’ve spent my career as a champion for women’s rights, advocating and fighting for things like Paid Family Leave, equal pay for equal work, safety for victims of domestic violence, and women’s right to bodily autonomy,” she said in a statement. “I saw the impact of these issues firsthand when I was sidelined at my first job due to my pregnancy, and I know that countless Maryland women are still harmed by unfair treatment to this day. John King knows that issues like these affect all of us and I couldn’t be more excited to partner with him to make real, lasting change for Marylanders.”

With the filing deadline seven weeks away, five of the Democratic candidates for governor have yet to pick running mates. So far, former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III has teamed with Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro, Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot has selected former Prince George’s County Councilmember Monique Anderson-Walker, and former foundation CEO and author Wes Moore is running with former state Del. Aruna Miller.

King and Siri have a released a one-minute video introducing the ticket, featuring a conversation between the running mates filmed in King’s backyard in Silver Spring.

“Michelle, you’ve spent your whole life fighting to make Maryland a more equitable place,” King says at the top of the video.

“I’m so excited to enter this new chapter with you, John,” Siri says. She then talks a little bit about her professional history.

“I’ve been advocating for women’s rights my whole career and I know we can’t take it for granted here,” she says.

King says that Siri shares his opinion about “the transformative power of government to be a powerful force in people’s lives.”

“Thrilled to have you on the team, now let’s get to work,” he says at the video’s end.

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