As the number of candidates for governor of Maryland keeps growing, so far, only one person has declared for the lieutenant governor position, and that is Susie Turnbull of Bethesda, who will be running with gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, a former national president and CEO of the NAACP.
“My campaign is about building a movement of working families to get Maryland back to doing big things again, and I can't think of a more dedicated and proven partner in this effort than Susie Turnbull,” Jealous said. “She has devoted her life to elevating the voices of working families and fighting for progressive policies and candidates with the courage to move our state and country forward.”
Turnbull has been active in the Democratic Party on the County, state and national level for 40 years.
While neither Jealous nor Turnbull have held elected office, both are familiar faces in the political world. During the Democratic presidential primaries, Jealous strongly supported Sen. Bernie Sanders while Turnbull favored Hillary Clinton. Now the candidates hope to lure supporters from both camps of the 2016 Democratic presidential campaign.
Turnbull has been active in the County and spent four years on its Board of Appeals. She is a co-founder of Emerge Maryland, which trains and supports women who want to run for political office. She has been vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, chair of both the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and Jewish Women International and currently sits on several boards, including the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.
In a telephone interview with the Sentinel, Turnbull explained she never planned to run for office until right after Donald Trump was declared president.
Soon after the election, Turnbull, who has two sons and two grandsons, attended the Women’s March on Washington.
“I think this was the turning point,” she said. “People who have never paid attention stepped up and said ‘I’ve got to do this [run for political office),’” said Turnbull.
If chosen in the Democratic primary, Jealous and Turnbull will go on to face their incumbent Republican opponent, Gov. Larry Hogan in November.
While she acknowledged that the governor is well liked, Turnbull said Hogan “is not working to protect Maryland from Congressional program cuts.”
Hogan is also not standing up to Trump or Congress to protect Maryland residents, she said.
She criticized Hogan for being “a lot of talk and no action,” noting that he declared the state in an opioid crisis and gave a big check to fix Route 270, “and yet no plan is on the books.”
For years, “Maryland used to be first in everything,” Turnbull said. However, she notes that status has changed when it comes to education.
“Our schools have fallen from one to fifth,” she said.
Tuition at state colleges stayed level for years but now has risen under Hogan’s leadership, she said.
Turnbull has pledged to work to make sure all Marylanders earn a living wage and that tuition at state schools is affordable. She also wants to see pre-kindergarten available for all.
The current polls show that Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III is ahead, but that doesn’t concern Turnbull. She noted that Brian Frosh won the race for Attorney General despite being behind in the polls for quite some time.
Turnbull declared that 2018 will be “a banner year” for Democrats in Maryland.
The key to winning is getting out the vote, and Turnbull believes the combined backgrounds of herself and Jealous will bring out a lot of volunteers and voters.
She has experience doing just that, having worked on campaigns for former President Barack Obama, Gov. Martin O’Malley and Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
“When Democrats vote in Maryland – and actually turnout is very important – we win,” she said.
Karen Britto, former state Delegate from District 16 and chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, is Turnbull's campaign chair.