Though Gov. Larry Hogan says he did not vote for President Trump, Ben Jealous, a progressive candidate and former NAACP president, is trying to turn his campaign for governor in 2018 into a referendum on the two Republicans.
“We are a great state with a great future with great people, but our children will not be able to realize their full potential if we continue to tolerate the status quo,” said Jealous.
Hogan is popular in the state, but certainly not among progressive voters in Takoma Park, many of whom were drawn to Bernie Sanders’ appearance at the rally. Trump, however, is not as popular in Maryland, and Jealous is ready to capitalize on that.
“We are gathered today on Trump’s doorsteps to let the world know we intend to get rid of his doormat,” said Jealous at the rally.
Sen. Bernie Sanders also acknowledged that Jealous’ campaign would be a movement against Hogan and Trump.
“It seems like MD is ready for a political revolution,” said Sanders. “These are, to say the least, unusual and unprecedented times for our country. We have a president who by temperament is unfit to hold that office.”
Jealous intends to use his platform to undo what he views as bad policy initiatives.
“Let me be very clear. I am asking you to help put me in the governor’s office so it will be easier for us to govern,” Jealous said. “It will be easier for us to undo with good public policy what bad public policy has done.”
The public policy that Jealous has in mind includes affordable college education, universal access to health care, ending mass incarceration, closing corporate loopholes, curbing climate change, and raising the minimum wage in Maryland to $15 an hour.
Many of those issues appeal to progressives like Julie Toddeo, who believes the 2018 gubernatorial race is very important for getting a Democrat elected.
“I am an educator. I think we need more money for education,” she said. “I was upset about the minimum-wage issue.”
Described as “unflinchingly progressive” by Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator, Ben Jealous appeals to voters who do not want a Republican as governor.
Lore Rosenthal, who recently got involved with the Prince George’s County chapter of Our Revolution, is one of those voters.
“I think we need progressive people running our state,” she said.
However, Jealous is not the only progressive candidate running who can fill that need. Sooner or later, he will face off against other Democrats and feel pressure to stand out from those with similar platforms.
Already, Richard Madaleno, a progressive state senator, has announced his candidacy. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and former Hillary Clinton technology adviser Alec Ross are also competing for the Democratic nomination.
Jealous, at the rally, discussed his plan to drum up support and spoke about his goal of ousting Republican Gov. Larry Hogan rather than focus on Democratic opponents.
“Let me make it very clear: Hogan has a lot to worry about. The only way he got in was because there was low voter turnout,” Jealous said at the rally. “If there’s one thing this former president of the NAACP knows how to do very well, it’s turn out voters.”
“We’re not just going to talk to Democrats. We’re not just going to talk to independents. We’re going to talk to everybody in this state.”