LANDOVER – As early voting polls for the primary elections opened on June 14, Maryland gubernatorial candidate and currently Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III made one final pitch to first-time voters on his platform as his campaign received two key endorsements.
As part of an early-voting tour around the state, Baker made a stop for a “Get Out the Vote” outside the early voting center in the Wayne K. Curry Sports and Learning Center in Landover.
A crowd of about 25 supporters was present. Also, invited were youth, formerly incarcerated people and recently naturalized citizens according to a campaign press release.
“What we need in the next 12 days is to say what is important: voting,” Baker said in a motivating tone towards his supporters. “Call your friends and tell everybody that we want all the young people voting. That is what is going to change (everything), and on June 26, we are going to make history.”
While his running mate, current Chief of the Criminal Division for the Maryland Attorney General Elizabeth Embry, campaigned in the Eastern Shore Former Maryland gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin was alongside Baker for support at the event.
Ervin, who officially dropped out of the race on June 13, was originally running for lieutenant governor but her running mate, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, died in May. She began setting up her own campaign until a Maryland judge blocked changes to be made to the ballot to include her running for governor on June 4.
Baker said he reached out to Ervin personally after the court’s decision to send condolences for the loss. Soon afterward, it turned into a possible endorsement opportunity for Baker.
“I’ve known (Baker) for several years, and we have been friends for a long time,” Ervin said. “So as (her running mate Marisol Johnson) and I were going up in the polls, we decided that we were not going to get to June 26 in a winning position but we knew that joining forces with Baker/Embry, we were going to enjoy this man becoming the governor for the state of Maryland.”
“I was very pleased that they would consider joining our team,” Baker said. “Because it is really joining. They are not dropping out of the race; it is them taking their great ideas and bringing them to the Baker/Embry team and not only helping us through the campaign but a commitment to helping the state so I am very pleased and it was a big deal to our campaign.”
According to the Pew Research Center, while Millennials (adults between 20-35) and Generation Xers (adults between 36-51) cast 69.6 million votes during the 2016 general election, turnout is expected lowered during this year’s midterms. However, that has not stopped candidates like Baker to appeal to the younger demographic.
Justin McNeil, 21, said he never used to be concerned about politics. However, the University of Maryland, College Park student will vote in both elections as a first-time voter and Baker supporter. Originally from Bowie, McNeil said he has benefited of Baker’s decision-making as county executive, including participating in the Summer Youth Enrichment Program known as SYEP.
“Growing up, I did not really pay attention to politics, and I really didn’t know what was really happening. As a result, I was neglecting to come out to vote because I thought it didn’t make a difference,” McNeil said. “But as I grew older and seen the changes that certain candidates were implementing and the initiatives that Mr. Baker was putting into place, I really wanted to make him governor because I know personally that he will make the change and my vision come true.”
Despite attending the event, Daniel Hudson,18, of Upper Marlboro, was still unsure who to vote for at the ballot. The recent Fredrick Douglass High School graduate said he plans to participate in early voting once he finds a candidate who uses their platform to voice his concerns, like affordable schooling and health care, the most.
“I know that some really bad people in office will never help me so why not vote so I have people in office that will help my specific needs and wants,” Hudson said.
With the start of early voting and days before the primary election on June 26, Baker’s campaign has reached a critical juncture. Along with Ervin’s support, The Washington Post reported on June 14 that U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md. will also lend his support for the current county executive.
Winning the primary will make him the democratic representative that would take on the incumbent Larry Hogan in the general election in the fall. Baker said his record as county executive shows that he is the better candidate. Actions like increasing the minimum wage and a lower crime rate encourage people to be a part of his campaign, Baker said.
“Once again, not just talking about but actually doing it,” Baker said. “I think those are the reasons why they joined the campaign and those are the reasons why we want (the people) to vote for us.”