Former NAACP President Ben Jealous has traveled around the state of Maryland to garner support his agenda on various items such as universal health care, the fight for $15 minimum wage and abolish mass incarceration.
During Jealous’s “Courage to Lead” tour to seek the Democratic nomination for governor, the campaign announced 13 endorsements he’s received.
The most recent endorsements came last week from Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and the National Capital Baptist Convention, a group of religious leaders from the Washington metropolitan area that endorsed Republican Gov. Larry Hogan three years ago.
“When we create a government that reflects our convention that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” Jealous, 44, said at the Oct. 19 convention. “Nothing good in our community never started unless we gathered in our oldest tradition, the Baptist tradition, to come together and decided we were going to get it done.”
The Rev. Charles McNeill Jr., president of the convention, supports Jealous’s stance on health care and more funding for more teachers and resources in public schools.
In addition, McNeill said Hogan reneged on campaign promises to fill certain Cabinet positions and today “we can’t even get something as simple as an appointment.”
“He’s not a career politician and it gives him the opportunity to think outside the box,” McNeill said of Jealous. “We talked to Ben and we haven’t been promised anything. All we want from Ben is to give jobs to our people and our constituents.”
Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College in Towson, said endorsements from outside organizations and national figures such as Booker and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) don’t add much value on a campaign.
However, for Jealous to receive support from Black religious leaders who are historically moderate carries weight, Kromer said.
“Ben Jealous is staunchly progressive,” she said. “So for him to get that endorsement is really interesting.”
A Goucher College poll conducted last month showed Jealous had the fourth-highest name recognition in the Democratic field.
Jealous trailed Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. The leader in the poll, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, withdrew his name from the gubernatorial race Sept. 18.
The other candidates in the race are state Sen. Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County, technology entrepreneur Alec Ross, Krishanti Vignarajah, policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama, and attorney James Shea.
Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, 46, announced her candidacy Oct. 12 and Kromer said she could present another challenge in the Democratic primary.
Besides the name recognition of her husband, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Kromer said Rockeymoore Cummings stands as a qualified candidate. Rockeymoore Cummings manages her own consulting firm in Northwest and previously worked with the Congressional Black Caucus and National Urban League.
In addition, Rockeymoore Cummings stands alone as the only candidate who’s African-American, a woman and currently represents Baltimore City.
“There also has not been a woman governor [in Maryland],” Kromer said. “I am interested to see where she campaigns at, where her constituency is and if she can appeal to a large section of African-American females in Baltimore City, Baltimore County and there in P.G. County.”
Several people seeking political offices in Prince George’s declined to say who they will support for governor.
Aisha Braveboy, a former state delegate now running for Prince George’s County state’s attorney, said she wants to make sure the candidate she chooses will support her platform.
Jamila J. Woods of Clinton, who’s running for the state Senate seat in District 26 currently held by C. Anthony Muse, also hedged her bets.
“I don’t make any public endorsements. I’m endorsing Jamila J. Woods,” she said.
Muse will run in the Democratic primary for Prince George’s County executive against former Rep. Donna Edwards, State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, former Obama administration official Paul Monteiro and Lewis S. Johnson.
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said it will be a tough choice for Democratic constituents to decide on the gubernatorial candidate in the June 26 primary.
“It shows part of the strength of the Democratic party to have this many qualified candidates,” he said in an interview. “It’s hard to imagine a job to run for governor. It’s a 16-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week job. Right now, any one of those candidates could win.”