Maryland Democratic Chairman Bruce Poole has named Patrick Murray, a former top aide to House Speaker Mike Busch (D) and Senate President Mike Miller (D), as the state party’s new executive director.

Murray, one of the savviest strategists in Maryland politics, will have day-to-day control over the party’s strategy, fundraising and messaging at a time when Democratic leaders and activists are still reeling from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s upset win last November. The party also faces potentially contentious primary battles in 2016.

Murray’s appointment suggests that Miller and Busch will continue to play a big role in charting the state party’s future course. They were also instrumental in ensuring that Poole, a former state House majority leader who served in Annapolis from 1987 to 1999, become the new chairman after Yvette Lewis stepped down earlier this year.

Despite his association with the Legislature’s presiding officers, Murray has good working relationships with most factions in the state party.

In a message he is delivering to state Democratic leaders this afternoon, Poole says he chose Murray because he can “hit the ground running” and has a unique perspective, having worked extensively in Democratic politics both in Maryland and in other states.

Murray, who grew up in Harford County, has spent the past 3 ½ years as director of state affairs for Johns Hopkins. In addition to 3-year stints working for both Busch and Miller – and their respective political slates in election years – Murray has also been the executive director of the Kansas Democratic Party and has worked on political campaigns in the Sunflower State and in Virginia, New York and Utah.

Murray, 35, ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the House of Delegates last year, finishing 111 votes out of the money in a five-way Democratic primary in Harford County’s District 34A.

In his message to party leaders, Poole said 29 people applied for the executive director position, and that five were selected as finalists.

Murray will start his new gig on an interim basis in early July. The state party’s executive committee is expected to ratify the selection at its regular meeting later in the month. 

 Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at . Follow him on Twitter -- @joshkurtznews