Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, 58, has been traversing the state of Maryland over the past year, speaking with citizens from cities large and small — listening as they express their concerns, needs, hopes and dreams.
And early Wednesday morning, June 21, he sent a video announcement to his friends, supporters and the media outlining the reasons why he’s convinced that despite a crowded field of Democrats, he believes that when the dust clears about a year from now, he’ll stand as the best candidate to take on Maryland’s current, and highly popular, governor — Republican Larry Hogan.
Baker’s first two stops on the campaign trail included Baltimore City and, closer to home, National Harbor where he addressed members of the Black Press during the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s [NNPA] 2017 Annual Convention which opened June 20 and continues through June 24.
“I believe the sum of my life’s experiences put me in a very good position to lead the state of Maryland forward,” he said in his first interview with the Black Press.
“Prince George’s County closely resembles the state in that it’s comprised of communities that are large, rural, urban and suburban. Serving as the governor would require me to advocate on behalf of Maryland’s diverse citizenry in ways quite similar to how I’ve worked so hard for our county’s residents for the past 7 ½ years,” said Baker, who earned both his undergraduate degree and Juris Doctor from Howard University, later serving in the Maryland House of Delegates before achieving victory to become county executive in 2010 following two earlier, unsuccessful attempts.
During his two terms as the county’s leader, he’s made it his business to restore confidence in the state’s second-largest jurisdiction once shackled by multiple stains of corruption.
He applauds Maryland’s public education system but believes “it could be even better,” perhaps recalling his own struggles as a youth with reading which he says he successfully overcame because of the support of his family and the dedication of a cadre of caring teachers.
As for the Affordable Care Act [ACA] and ongoing efforts by Republicans to dismantle it, he said, “We have to keep healthcare in the minds of every citizen. Under President Obama’s plan, we cut the number of uninsured citizens by 50,000. That’s significant. At the same time, we cannot simply stand by and allow partisan beliefs and initiatives to hurt the people of Maryland.”
“There are often times when the governor must be willing to face political risks in order to protect the rights of the citizens and to strengthen the state in which he or she has been elected to serve,” Baker said. “That’s a risk I’m willing to take.”
Baker places the improvement of the state’s roads, shoring up services offered by the transit system and protecting the environment at the top of his list of campaign concerns.
He believes his years of service in the state legislature will bode him well as he seeks to assert himself in an unusually large field of candidates, representing both the Democratic Party’s progressive and establishment voices, and which so far includes: former NAACP leader Ben Jealous, Baltimore businessman Alec Ross and state Senator Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. That field could grow even larger if Rep. John Delaney, Baltimore attorney James L. Shea and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz decide to throw their hats into the ring.
Still, Baker looks forward to the challenge ahead.
“I believe you’ll see a lot of elected officials endorse my candidacy as we march toward the 2018 election,” he said. “One secures endorsements when people are satisfied that a candidate has done what they said they would do. That describes the work I’ve accomplished since becoming the Prince George’s County Executive.”
Baker asserts his decision to enter the governor’s race came after completing his assessment of the man that he knew he’d have to unseat, Governor Hogan, and concluding that he stands the best chance among his fellow candidates to emerge victorious.
“Hogan is quite popular among Maryland citizens but the similarities between him and the other candidates are fairly obvious,” Baker said. “With me in the race, you certainly would not have a generic matchup.
“What’s really important for voters to consider is the current tenor on the national scene with Donald Trump in the White House,” he said. “People can no longer put their trust in the federal government to ensure their rights. Local government will be the only sure way that citizens can see their needs met. Whether we’re talking about health care, transportation or education, it’s the governor, not the president, who will make a difference for Marylanders in the coming years.”
For more information about Baker’s campaign, visit www.rushernbaker.com.