Those in Maryland political circles, especially in Montgomery County, know Valerie Ervin has and will fight against racial discrimination, voting rights and education inequities.
Ervin, the former Democratic gubernatorial candidate who sought and won a seat on the Montgomery County school board after her oldest son’s teacher questioned his ability to read, will now help Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III in his bid to become the next governor of Maryland.
She formally announced her endorsement of Baker on June 13 near the Takoma Langley Transit Center in Montgomery County.
Ervin chose to end her own bid partly because a judge ruled this month against her complaint to reprint ballots and place stickers on them before the primary election. Her request came after the May 10 death of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who was a viable contender and had chosen Ervin as his running mate.
“If [Ervin] can go back to her home county, the populous Montgomery County [and] Democratic stronghold and get people behind Baker, then that will be a good thing for him,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College in Towson. “I think it’s going to come close between Baker and Ben Jealous, so every vote is going to count.”
One of those Ervin supporters and childhood friend, former Rep. Donna Edwards, doesn’t plan to endorse anyone while she seeks the Prince George’s County executive seat.
“I have my own race to worry about,” Edwards said.
In the most recent Gonzales Research and Media Services poll released June 12, Baker leads Jealous, the former NAACP president, by only two percentage points.
Baker received 54 percent of the vote in his home turf of Prince George’s, with Jealous at 18 percent. Baker also has a slight lead over state Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr. in Montgomery County with 23 percent to 22 percent.
Jealous maintains a huge lead in Baltimore City and Baltimore County at 59 percent and Baker at 35 percent.
However, Gonzalez said that deficit still may not affect Baker.
“Because of his strength in Prince George’s and [slight lead in Montgomery County] is what’s given him his current lead,” Gonzalez said in an interview. “He’s showing enough signs out of the Baltimore area and getting enough votes right now that the signs look good.”
To push for more voters in Montgomery County, the state’s largest jurisdiction, Jealous held rallies in the county Thursday with Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) and Saturday with educators.
Also on Saturday, Jealous spoke with supporters in neighboring Prince George’s County alongside Van Jones, host of “The Van Jones Show” on CNN.
As for Ervin, she worked as executive director for Center for Working Families while Kamenetz recruited her to run as lieutenant governor. However, the organization endorsed Jealous.
Ervin, a staunch progressive who supports a $15 minimum wage, will discuss ideas on how to merge her values with Baker, a centrist who wanted to wait on state lawmakers to institute a minimum wage increase before Prince George’s voted on local legislation.
They both agree on recommendations to enhance public schools, create 21st-century jobs and restructure Maryland Board of Election laws.
Most importantly, Baker said, Ervin and her former running mate, Marisol Johnson, who served on the school board in Baltimore County, will keep the Baker campaign honest.
“We’re going to certainly talk about how to bring ourselves together as a community, especially around issues of color,” he said. “They’re going to keep pushing us … to be mindful of what’s going on.”
Early voting in the primary election begins Thursday, June 21 and the primary election Tuesday, June 26.
The other five candidates in the gubernatorial race are tech entrepreneur Alec Ross; Baltimore attorney Jim Shea; Krish Vignarajah, onetime policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama; James Hugh Jones II of Baltimore City; and Ralph Jaffe of Baltimore County.