Baker Raises Money, Gets Endorsements from D.C. Heavy Hitters

James Wright | 1/13/2010, 3:12 p.m.

The race for Prince George's County Executive is on and one candidate is already raising money from sources outside the county while getting nods from key labor unions.

Rushern Baker, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates who hopes that his third run for county executive will be the charm, attended a breakfast fundraiser at the law offices of Reed Smith, LLC, on K Street in Northwest, Thu., Jan. 7.

A Scott Bolden, the managing partner at Reed Smith, hosted the event for Baker along with noted Washington attorneys-turned power brokers David Wilmot and William Lightfoot as sponsors.

Baker, who asked Bolden to host the fundraiser, said that he will be the next county executive and that it would be wise for those at the event to support him at this early juncture.

"It is good that you all have got on board now," said Baker, 50.

"The growth of the region is going to happen with us and as county executive, I will work on having a better relationship with the District of Columbia and other surrounding jurisdictions," the Cheverly, Md., resident said.

The informal gathering consisted of 25 of the Washington area€s most promising and prominent attorneys and political leaders who included District political activist the Rev. Anthony Motley, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty, insider Darryl Wiggins and Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring). Ervin, who serves as vice chair of her county council, joined the chorus of support for Baker.

"It is my honor to support your candidacy," Ervin, the first Black woman elected to that county's legislative body, said. "I am happy to support you early. We need to begin a conversation on regionalism and I am willing to raise funds and I feel good about your prospects."

James Dyke, a partner in the Northern Virginia law firm of McGuireWoods, LLP and the newly elected chairman of the board of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, said that Baker has good ideas on how the region can grow together. The former secretary of education under Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder, policy adviser to Vice President Walter Mondale and former chairman of the board of trustees of the University of the District of Columbia said that he wholeheartedly supports Baker's election.

Baker was boosted by the recent endorsements of the county's Fraternal Order of Police and the Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association. He said he was pleased that the leadership of those unions decided to come out early for him.

He narrowly lost the endorsement of the deputy sheriffs union to Sheriff Michael Jackson, 119-90.

In addition to Jackson, Baker's competitors include County Councilmen Sam Dean (D-Council District 6) and Tony Knotts (D-Council District 8), Del. Gerron Levi (D-District 23) and Henry Turner, chairman of the county's Veterans Commission.

State Sen. Anthony Muse (D-District 26) is considering whether to enter the race.

The Democratic primary is Tue., Sept. 14.

Baker said that one advantage that he has over his opponents is that none have ever run for county executive.

"I am the only candidate that has ever organized a county executive race," he said. "Those other folks never had to go through it. You have to run that much harder."

Baker said that his two terms in Annapolis, from 1994-2002, will help the county politically.

"Many of the people that I came to Annapolis with are now subcommittee and committee chairs," he said. "Plus, I understand the [state] budget process. Nobody has to introduce me to how that process works."

The breakfast event raised approximately $10,000 for Baker. The candidate also received $1,000 contribution from R. Donahue Peebles, the multi-millionaire developer who decided recently not to run for mayor of the District of Columbia.

As county executive, Baker promised to improve the education system and to bring more green jobs to the county. Education, he said, was the key to the county's future.

"Education reform is number one," he said. "If we get that right, everything else will fall into place."