Several days after Maryland voters chose to re-elect Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for a second four-year term, the state’s Democratic Party chairwoman expressed optimism in the organization’s work.
Kathleen Matthews said the party exceeded its goal with nearly 1.3 million registered Democrats who voted in the Nov. 6 general election. Unfortunately, thousands of them chose Hogan.
According to unofficial results from the state Board of Elections, Hogan received 1.2 million, or 56 percent, of the votes, the most ever by a Republican candidate in Maryland. Democratic challenger and former NAACP president Ben Jealous garnered almost 936,000, or 43 percent.
“We’re disappointed we fell short with Ben Jealous,” Matthews said in an interview Friday, Nov. 9. “You saw a blue wave on the local level, but Ben Jealous had a real challenge [against] Larry Hogan, the incumbent. I just think it is tough after you go through a real, competitive primary.”
Matthews admitted Jealous had to start over in terms of raising money after he defeated seven other Democratic challengers in the June primary. In addition, challenging Hogan’s more than $9 million campaign chest without a GOP challenger.
Although Jealous and the Democratic party raised about $1.8 million in two months a few weeks before the election, the campaign needed more. Maryland Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-to-1 ratio, but polls showed voters believed Hogan “is doing a good job” in Annapolis.
Matthews said trying to obtain national resources and money from organizations such as the Democratic Governors Association made it tough for Jealous to receive money. In addition, other competitive races went on nationwide such as governor races with Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.
Meanwhile, Matthews, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh and more than 100 other supporters attended a Jealous post-election gathering at the Hippodrome Theater in Baltimore.
Although two prominent Democrats, Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Elijah Cummings, held a similar event in the city and campaigned with Jealous during the election, they didn’t show up at the Hippodrome.
Delegate Alonzo Washington (D-District 22), who represents Prince George’s County, tweeted on Election Night: “@mddems are a disappointment…period.”
Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the county’s teacher’s union who attended the Jealous event in Baltimore, said Democratic leadership must do better.
For example, the state’s Democratic Senate Caucus Committee distributed a mailer to promote state Sen. Kathy Klausmeier of Baltimore County that show Hogan also on it. She received criticism from some fellow Democrats the flier made it appear she received an endorsement from Hogan. She won in last week’s election by 554 votes, according to unofficial results.
“When you have Democratic leadership putting out mailers for Republican candidates, that’s a problem,” she said. “What happened here was a travesty. Ben is a wonderful leader. He’s on point. He’s got the pulse of the people in Maryland. The party better wake up.”
In other races, Democrats will lead five of the state’s major jurisdictions as county executives in the Washington and Baltimore regions: Prince George’s, Montgomery, Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties. Angela Alsobrooks became the first Black woman and first woman elected to lead Prince George’s and Calvin Ball become Howard County’s first elected Black executive.
Also, Democrats gained at least five seats in the House of Delegates that include Harry Bhandari of Baltimore County, the first Nepali American ever elected in the Maryland General Assembly. Lily Qi of Montgomery County became the first Chinese immigrant elected.
During a press conference Nov. 7 in Annapolis, Hogan said the local races appeared to be a referendum on voters’ disdain for President Donald Trump.
“Unfortunately, some folks lost on my side of the aisle,” Hogan said. “We had President Trump say the election should be about him even though he’s not on the ballot. In Maryland, that’s exactly what happened. It was a repudiation of the president.”