FORESTVILLE – After a contentious Democratic primary campaign, both Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker, III and gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous embraced each other in front of a packed, standing room auditorium as a sign for all Democratic voters in attendance at the Maryland Democratic Unity Celebration on July 18.
Elected officials that align to with the party and nominees for local offices to voters arrived to show their support for Jealous. After months of being the party’s outsider, the former president and CEO of the NAACP was welcomed by the Democratic establishment as he prepares to take on the incumbent governor Larry Hogan in the November general election.
“We are a family,” Jealous said. “In the end, Democrats are a family. We fight like family, and we come together like family. And right now, we are united to turn out every last Democrat or like-minded Independent in the state to make sure all our families move forward, entrepreneurs get a fair shot, and all our kids get a great education.”
Jealous confirmed that several top Democrats with huge followings jumped to support him “as soon as the primaries were over.” He and his running mate, Susan Turnbull, won 39.6 percent of the vote despite lacking the endorsement of local established members of the party.
“I am very harden to see how quickly we are building momentum towards our goal of victory this fall,” Jealous said.
Most of the establishment support went to Baker, who only could corral 29.3 of the primary votes. Since the loss, the county executive has embraced his counterpart. During his concession speech, Baker asked supporters to vote for Jealous and before the Unity event, they both toured Dream Village, a minority-owned member only workspace in Hyattsville.
“What we said along the campaign trail… is that Democrats were going to come together because the most important thing is to have somebody in Annapolis that can work with [State Senator Thomas] Miller, [State Senator] Paul Pinsky and [State Delegate] Jay Walker to get things done,” Baker said.
Local Democrats spoke glowingly about Jealous and were very critically of Hogan. They specifically attacked Hogan and his party affiliation with President Donald Trump. The theme was said throughout the night, despite past and recent comments Hogan has made not supporting President Trump’s initiatives.
State Attorney General Brian Frosh called the governor “missing in action” when permissions were needed to sue the federal government at the start of his term. Frosh can now sue the Trump administration without approval, but Hogan left out $1 million dedicated to hiring five new lawyers to file lawsuits.
Aisha Braveboy, who won the Democratic nomination to become the new State’s Attorney, said Hogan’s non-actions were not enough and called voters to vote along party lines in order to “stop the lie that this governor cannot be defeated.”
“We need to send a strong message that it is not enough to distance yourself from Trump as our current governor attempts to do,” Braveboy said. “We need leaders that take the fight to Donald Trump.”
As Jealous spoke to the enthusiastic crowd, he talked about his past signing up voters as a member of the NAACP and how it will help attract new and old voters out to support. He pitched about bringing in more technological jobs into Prince George’s County, improving teacher pay, moving to a single payer healthcare system and making medical cannabis legal.
Lastly, Jealous addressed two advertisements that aired after he won the primary election, including one posted by the Hogan Campaign, calling them “attacks (that’s) going deep into the mud” that he says voters will see through.
“What we know is when Democrats run as Democrats with no shame on our commitment to fight for working people, we win, we win big,” Jealous said. “And if you are wondering why Larry Hogan chose to start running million-dollars in attack ads against me in the middle of July, it’s because he knows that too.”
County support will be vital in winning the general election and Jealous acknowledged having the support of Baker, Braveboy, County Executive Democratic nominee Angela Alsobrooks and local party officials. In the primary, Prince George’s was one of two counties that Jealous lost.
“In order for the ideas that (Jealous) and (Turnbull) have put together in their campaign, we need to make sure we turn out the vote in Prince George’s County,” Baker said.
For Jealous, his message was clear, get every Democratic voter available in this county and the state to vote. Jealous said while he performed better than expected in Prince George’s, he cannot take votes for granted and plans to rally up more support in the county.
“I have no doubt that not only will we win but that we will turn out every last Democrat in this county and we have to achieve both goals,” Jealous said.