Ben Jeal­ous for gover­nor

Former NAACP pres­i­dent and CEO Ben Jeal­ous would pro­vide vot­ers with the strong­est al­ter­na­tive to Gov. Larry Ho­gan in Novem­ber’s election

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE -

Our view:

Mary­land vot­ers de­serve a real choice in Novem­ber’s election for gover­nor, and we be­lieve Demo­crat Ben Jeal­ous pro­vides the clear­est al­ter­na­tive to Gov. Larry Ho­gan. It’s not just that the former NAACP pres­i­dent and CEO has the stature or po­lit­i­cal skills to run a com­pet­i­tive cam­paign against the pop­u­lar and ex­tremely well funded Repub­li­can in­cum­bent (though he does), it’s that he presents the strong­est con­trast to the gover­nor in his vi­sion for the state. We give him our en­dorse­ment in the Demo­cratic pri­mary.

Vot­ers may think of Mr. Jeal­ous as the Bernie San­ders can­di­date in this race. Mr. Jeal­ous was a prom­i­nent sup­porter of Se­na­tor San­ders’ pres­i­den­tial can­di­dacy. He’s brought Bernie into the state, has got­ten en­dorse­ments from other prom­i­nent na­tional Democrats such as Sens. Corey Booker and Ka­mala Har­ris, and prom­ises state ver­sions of Se­na­tor San­ders’ best known pol­icy pro­pos­als: a sin­gle-payer, Medi­care for all health care sys­tem and free col­lege tuition.

But that short­hand ver­sion of how he stands out from the broad and deep field of Democrats in this race be­lies the true na­ture of his cam­paign. Mr. Jeal­ous did not grow up in Mary­land — his par­ents had to leave the state be­cause their mixed-race mar­riage was not le­gal here at the time — but he has deep roots in Bal­ti­more and a re­spect for its role in the state, and his pol­icy plat­form re­flects that. We have a lot of ques­tions about how Medi­care for all or free tuition would work in Mary­land, but on dozens of other is­sues, from strength­en­ing pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion to tack­ling the opi­oid cri­sis to re­form­ing the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, his pro­pos­als re­flect a so­phis­ti­cated un­der­stand­ing of the prob­lems the state faces and the choices its lead­ers will have to make in the years ahead.

But be­ing gover­nor is about a lot more than putting out good pol­icy papers, and it is in his lead­er­ship abil­ity that Mr. Jeal­ous ex­cels. He has ex­pe­ri­ence in run­ning a large or­ga­ni­za­tion — he took over the NAACP at a time when its fi­nances were in tat­ters and its rel­e­vance in doubt, and gave it new life and pur­pose. He has a proven track record of suc­cess in grass­roots or­ga­niz­ing, whether through get-out-the-vote drives in the deep South or gal­va­niz­ing Mary­lan­ders around is­sues like the death penalty re­peal, the Dream Act and mar­riage equal­ity. And he has the stature and grav­i­tas to be a leader that Mary­lan­ders turn to in dif­fi­cult times.

Crit­ics look at the seven ma­jor Demo­cratic can­di­dates seek­ing to run against Gover­nor Ho­gan and con­clude that the fact that none of them has emerged in the polls as a clear front-run­ner is in­dica­tive of a weak field. Having in­ter­viewed them all, re­viewed their records and watched them in de­bates, we come to the op­po­site con­clu­sion. There are sim­ply too many good can­di­dates for Democrats to choose among, and we have found much to Ben Jeal­ous is best able to ar­tic­u­late a co­he­sive, pro­gres­sive vi­sion to con­trast with Mr. Ho­gan’s cen­ter-right poli­cies. ad­mire about all of them.

Prince Ge­orge’s County Ex­ec­u­tive Rush­ern Baker’s record of turn­ing around his county after the scan­dal that sent his pre­de­ces­sor to prison is im­pres­sive. We have long ad­mired state Sen. Richard Madaleno’s in­tel­lect and skills at work­ing the levers of power in An­napo­lis. At­tor­ney Jim Shea’s suc­cess in build­ing Ven­able and his ded­i­ca­tion to civic causes in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion and eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity are inspiring. Au­thor/ entrepreneur Alec Ross’ abil­ity to per­ceive how tech­nol­ogy and the shift­ing global econ­omy will shape our fu­ture il­lu­mi­nates the im­por­tance of choices we make to­day. Former Mont­gomery County coun­cil­woman Valerie Ervin, who took Kevin Kamenetz’s spot on the bal­lot after his sud­den death, brought a fresh per­spec­tive to the race, and we­won­der what she might have been able to do if given more time to de­velop her cam­paign. Former Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial Kr­ish Vig­nara­jah — smart, charis­matic and ex­pe­ri­enced — is a po­lit­i­cal star in the mak­ing. We hope and ex­pect that we haven’t heard the last of her.

Many Demo­cratic pri­mary vot­ers are prob­a­bly looking at the field with an eye to­ward which can­di­date pro­vides the party with the best chance to beat Gover­nor Ho­gan. We un­der­stand that im­pulse, but it is not how we made our de­ci­sion. Rather, we looked for the can­di­date who is best able to ar­tic­u­late a co­he­sive pro­gres­sive vi­sion to con­trast with Mr. Ho­gan’s cen­ter-right poli­cies so that vot­ers can send a clear mes­sage in Novem­ber about the di­rec­tion they want the state to take, and we looked for the can­di­date who would best be able to gov­ern if he or she wins. Mr. Jeal­ous is the best choice on both counts. He has our en­dorse­ment.

KARL MER­TON FER­RON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

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