Dems talk fu­ture at Tru­man-Kennedy-Obama Din­ner

Look­ing for ward to 2018 elec­tions

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

Ev­ery year, the Charles County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee in­vites party mem­bers from across the state to join them for a din­ner where they dis­cuss the val­ues of be­ing a Demo­crat.

Dur­ing elec­tion sea­son, the com­mit­tee tends to see its big­gest turnout. But this year, de­spite up­com­ing elec­tions be­ing next year, the com­mit­tee filled more than 300 seats in the Wal­dorf Jaycees.

The rea­son why: Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump (R), Com­mit­tee Chair­man Gil­bert Bowl­ing (D) said.

“Peo­ple be­come en­er­gized by that which they want to be against,” said U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md., 5th).

This pres­i­dency, Hoyer said, has been an em­bar­rass­ment. The pres­i­dent does not know where he stands “from day to day, hour to hour or week to week.” And the Demo­cratic Party has to work to change that and sep­a­rate them­selves from Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Peo­ple who used to con­nect with the party, Hoyer said, now feel like Democrats only rep­re­sent the “elites” of the coun­try and feel left be­hind.

“They need to know that we care,” he said.

But the party has to take the proper steps in do­ing that, Bowl­ing said. Part of that is build­ing a larger pres­ence in South­ern Mary­land as a Demo­cratic en­tity, in­clud­ing St. Mary’s and Calvert coun­ties.

Bowl­ing, who is con­sid­er­ing run­ning for a district one spot on the Charles County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers, said win­ning lo­cal elec­tions and be­ing part of the lo­cal po­lit­i­cal process is a ma­jor

part of chang­ing the coun­try’s per­cep­tion.

As a for­mer Repub­li­can, Bowl­ing said he knows first­hand the party ac­cepts any­one and ev­ery­one who chooses to join. That is why, he said, the theme of the din­ner is “we build bridges, not walls.”

“We’re go­ing to take our gover­nor seat back in 2018. And I’m fully con­fi­dent the peo­ple in this room are go­ing to do it,” Bowl­ing said.

Ben Jeal­ous, the key­note speaker for the event, said ear­lier this year he has been weigh­ing a po­ten­tial run at the gover­nor seat in 2018. At the din­ner, he was more coy about the prospect of him run­ning, but said there needed to be change through­out the coun­try none­the­less.

{span} The big­gest ques­tion for any can­di­date run­ning for of­fice is, “What are we go­ing to say to them?” Jeal­ous said.{/ span}

Right now, Jeal­ous said, the per­cep­tion of the party is not pos­i­tive. Through­out its his­tory, he said, the party has been known for be­ing “in­clu­sive” and hav­ing an abun­dance of per­spec­tives.

Right now, he said, peo­ple do not see the party that way. That was some­thing U.S. Sen. Bernie San­ders (D-Ver­mont) tried to cor­rect through­out his pri­mary cam­paign, Jeal­ous noted.

Though he sup­ported Hil­lary Clin­ton in the gen­eral elec­tion, Jeal­ous said he trav­eled with San­ders through­out the pri­mary cam­paign and saw how he con­nected with dif­fer­ent vot­ers. Jeal­ous said he opened up for San­ders in St. Louis, but when he looked in the crowd, he did not see peo­ple he thought would re­late to what their cam­paign was based on.

But what San­ders has done dif­fer­ently than the rest of the party, he said, was talk­ing about is­sues that the mid­dle and work­ing classes of Amer­ica could con­nect with.

“Yes, we’re go­ing to raise the min­i­mum wage. Yes, we’re go­ing to make it eas­ier to or­ga­nize. Yes, we’re go­ing to make it eas­ier to grow your busi­ness. Yes, we’re go­ing to ad­dress the health cri­sis,” Jeal­ous said.

Is­sues that peo­ple con­nect with are the talk­ing points can­di­dates need to speak on, he said. Is­sues af­fect­ing the com­mon man like mass in­car­cer­a­tion, re­tool­ing the health care sys­tem, af­ford­able ed­u­ca­tion and other is­sues are what peo­ple care about, he said.

Bowl­ing agreed. Those prin­ci­ples are im­por­tant for the Demo­cratic Party mov­ing for­ward. Not just na­tion­ally, Bowl­ing said, but for races through­out the countr y.

For him, though, with this be­ing his last year as the chair­man of the Charles County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, Bowl­ing looks for­ward to serv­ing the citizens in a “dif­fer­ent ca­pac­ity” mov­ing for­ward.

Though he has not of­fi­cially filed with the Mary­land State Board of Elec­tions, Bowl­ing is ex­pected to run for county com­mis­sioner. And these are prin­ci­ples, he said, that he will con­tinue to live by as a mem­ber of the party.

“Tonight is very bit­ter­sweet for me,” Bowl­ing said.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY MICHAEL SYKES II

Pro­tes­tors were out­side of the Wal­dorf Jaycees in sup­port of the Wa­ter­shed Con­ser­va­tion District on Fri­day night be­fore the Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee’s Tru­man-Kennedy-Obama din­ner.

U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer speaks at the Tru­man-Kennedy-Obama Din­ner on the state of the party un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s lead­er­ship.

For­mer NAACP Na­tional Pres­i­dent Ben Jeal­ous de­liv­ers the key­note speech at the Tru­man-Obama-Kennedy Din­ner at the Wal­dorf Jaycees on Fri­day night.

Gil­bert Bowl­ing, chair­man of the Charles County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, de­liv­ers some of his last re­marks as the chair­man of the cen­tral com­mit­tee dur­ing Fri­day night’s Tru­man-Kennedy-Obama din­ner.

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