Former NAACP President Ben Jealous touted his experience as a community organizer while standing on a progressive agenda that included plans to implement health care for all Marylanders, end mass incarceration and provide access, tuition free, to the state’s community colleges.
And his strategy apparently worked, as Jealous secured the Democratic nomination for Maryland governor Tuesday and the opportunity to run against Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, who’s polled with at least a 60 percent approval rating.
In addition, Jealous could become the first African American elected as governor in Maryland.
“Voters in Maryland now face a clear choice. Larry Hogan’s ‘go along to get along’ politics and his policies on almost every issue stand in direct contrast to my vision for Maryland,” Jealous said to supporters in Baltimore. “I think experience is a great thing, but experience doesn’t mean a lot if you can’t bring people together to get big things done.
“I know how to lead and more importantly I know where to lead,” Jealous said. “We can’t settle for Larry Hogan’s low expectations anymore. It’s time for us to realize the promise of Maryland.”
According to unofficial results and with 80 percent of precincts reported, Jealous received 216,804 votes. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III came in second at 160,293.
Inside the numbers, Baker picked up 60,242 votes in his hometown county. Jealous garnered 45,618.
Some of the Prince George’s support for the victor came from the county’s teacher’s union that disagreed with Baker’s decision to forgo forcing schools system CEO Kevin Maxwell to resign amidst a grade inflation scandal and alleged unauthorized pay raises for central office staff.
In addition, despite Baker’s running mate, Elizabeth Embry’s Baltimore residency, Jealous received more than double the voter turnout in the Baltimore region.
In the state’s most-populated jurisdiction, Montgomery County, Jealous beat Baker by just over 4,000 votes.
“I like what he stands for and he is about bringing us together,” said Amy Wasserstrom of Takoma Park, who greeted Jealous and gave him a fist bump outside the Takoma Park Community Center in Montgomery County. “His plan to boost education and affordable housing. I just like the whole gamut he brings.”
Jealous, who received a myriad of endorsements from celebrities, unions and progressive groups, celebrated his successful bid to run a grassroots campaign.
As for Baker, his main support came from high-ranking Democrats such as former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland).
But it wasn’t enough for the Prince George’s County executive to emerge victorious in a race that included an usually large number of hopeful candidates.
“Ben Jealous just took on the Maryland political establishment and won,” Jay Hutchins, state director of the Maryland Working Families Party, said in a statement. “Ben ran with a powerful message of a Maryland that works for the many and not just the privileged few. We’re going to work around the clock to make sure that the voters who came out for Ben today help him oust Larry Hogan in November.”
As a fellow Democrat, Baker also plans to help Jealous win in November.
“We need a Democrat back in Annapolis so we can actually have health care for everybody,” he said to supporters at the College Park Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. “Our work is not done. We have to do the work to make the state better.”
After his remarks to supporters, Baker spoke briefly with reporters, praising Jealous’s campaign and citing his belief that it’s time for the state to elect a Black governor.
“I think it is high time for an African-American [governor]. He is a talented person,” Baker said. “It is an important election and he will galvanize people around the nation.”
Locally, Jim Coleman, president and CEO of the county’s Economic Development Corp., referred to Baker as “Moses” for the work he’s done for Prince George’s County.
“He’s improved access to health care and improved our economy to allow everybody to get good, high-paying jobs,” Coleman said. “What he’s done for Prince George’s County the last eight years is remarkable.”
Other Prince George’s County Results
The majority of voters chose State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks to represent the Democratic party to replace Baker as county executive.
Her sole challenger, at least for now, will be Jerry Mathis, the lone Republican on the ballot.
According to unofficial totals, Alsobrooks received 77,143, or 62 percent, of the votes.
Alsobrooks stood atop nine candidates who sought the Democratic nomination. Because Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 10 to 1 in the county, Alsobrooks will more than likely win in the general election
Former Rep. Donna Edwards came in second with 30,236 votes while state Sen. C. Anthony Muse came in third with 12,215 votes.
In other county races, County Councilman Mel Franklin (D-District 9) of Upper Marlboro and Calvin Hawkins, who worked as an advisor for Baker, received the top two votes to obtain the Democratic nomination for the two new County Council at-large seats.
Unofficial totals show Franklin received 41,565 votes and Hawkins with 37, 566. With no Republicans appearing on the ballot, the two should move forward in November and then represent the entire county which boasts nearly one million residents.
However, there could be a recount in the County Council District 7 race, impacting the results for the two vote-getters. Both Krystal Oriadha and Rodney Colvin Streeter each received 2,710 votes.
Oriadha garnered 856 votes during early voting and 1,845 on Tuesday with a total of 26.5 percent. In comparison, unofficial totals show Streeter picked up 871 votes from early voting and 1,839 on Tuesday at 26.6 percent.