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Leggett wants a meeting with Jealous before he’ll offer endorsement

IkeLeggettIke Leggett FILE PHOTOLike some of the state’s Democrats, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett has yet to give his endorsement in the gubernatorial race.

Usually in politics, politicians are quick to endorse fellow party members in general election campaigns, but some Democrats around the state have held back on an endorsement, including Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.

While former NAACP president and CEO Ben Jealous won the Democratic nomination in the June primary, Leggett is hesitant to offer his endorsement – and he is not alone.

Jealous, who has the endorsement of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is running on a platform of free college tuition, legal marijuana and a single-payer healthcare system. While his positions won him the Democratic nomination, they have yet to sway some of the state’s top Democrats, including Leggett.

“Hopefully we will get together to iron out some of the differences to find some common ground," Leggett said of a future meeting with Jealous.

While Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) campaign has tried to portray Jealous as a far-left politician who will raise taxes in Maryland, Jealous has resisted those tactics, saying his progressive proposal could be big step forward for the state to serve as a model for the country. Some of those progressive proposals, namely Jealous’ position on taxes, have given Leggett some pause.

Leggett, who endorsed Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker in the Democratic Primary, said he has not endorsed Jealous yet, citing differences over taxes and education.

While some Democrats in the state have either endorsed Hogan, the incumbent, or declared they will stay out of the race, Leggett said Jealous could still garner his support if he is able to clarify some of his positions.

Jealous said that if elected governor he would raise taxes by one percent on the state’s top-one percent of income earners – a proposal that would disproportionately impact Montgomery County – Leggett said.

“When you say you're going to tax the top one percent of the top tier, that's us, that's Montgomery County,” Leggett said

Leggett is not alone among the state’s Democrats who have been reluctant to endorse Jealous. Democrats like Delegate John Wood, Jr. (D-29) and former House of Delegates Majority Whip Bill Cox have endorsed Hogan, while Comptroller Peter Franchot (D), has declined to endorse any candidate for the 2018 race.

Leggett also said he wants Jealous to clarify his position on Amazon’s potential relocation to the County. Montgomery County made a list of 20 potential jurisdictions for the online retail giant’s second headquarters, and the state has offered an $8.5 billion incentive package to lure Amazon here. Leggett said he needs clarification from Jealous on whether or not he supports the state’s incentive package to Amazon before he can give him his endorsement.

While Leggett has withheld his endorsement in the gubernatorial race, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) praised him during a public discussion with business leaders in Bethesda.

Hogan praised Leggett’s help in working on the Purple Line and coming up with a bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.

“We’ve had an excellent working relationship with Ike Leggett, who is a Democrat,” Hogan said. “He and I have worked together [on] the Purple Line, on transportation issues, on 270, on 495, on saving Marriott.”

While Hogan reaped praise on Leggett, and Leggett has said he has a great relationship with the governor, Leggett also said he thinks he will come around to endorsing Jealous. Leggett says he need to meet with Jealous before he can issue an endorsement for governor.

@neal_earley

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