Democrats stump as Ho­gan kicks o≠ re­elec­tion cam­paign

The in­cum­bent faces no GOP chal­lengers in his pri­mary bid for gov­er­nor

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - MARY­LAND BY OVETTA WIGGINS, RACHEL CHASON AND ARELIS R. HERNÁN­DEZ ovetta.wiggins@wash­post.com arelis.her­nan­dez@wash­post.com rachel.chason@wash­post.com

Across Mary­land on Satur­day, the crowded field of Democrats vy­ing to chal­lenge Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Ho­gan cam­paigned for votes, aware that just over two weeks re­main be­fore the June 26 pri­mary.

For­mer NAACP chief ex­ec­u­tive Ben Jeal­ous ap­peared at Mor­gan State Univer­sity with co­me­dian Dave Chap­pelle. Prince Ge­orge’s County Ex­ec­u­tive Rush­ern L. Baker III, who along with Jeal­ous was atop the Demo­cratic field in a Wash­ing­ton Post-Univer­sity of Mary­land poll re­leased Tues­day, stumped with lo­cal politi­cians in the key bat­tle­ground of Bal­ti­more County.

In An­napo­lis, Ho­gan gath­ered his own faith­ful, kick­ing off his bid for a sec­ond term at a restaurant packed with hun­dreds of sup­port­ers, and dis­miss­ing his would-be op­po­nents as just so many lib­eral politi­cians.

“I don’t know much about these nine can­di­dates run­ning for gov­er­nor,” Ho­gan said. “But I do know one thing — and that is that ev­ery sin­gle one of them wants to take us in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion ...

“Do we want to take Mary­land back­ward and re­turn to the failed poli­cies of the past?”

‘Make a bet­ter Mary­land’

To hear Baker tell it, Ho­gan is the one mak­ing de­ci­sions that are bad for the state. A for­mer state del­e­gate and two-term county ex­ec­u­tive, he wants to boost fund­ing for pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion, in­sti­tute a $15 min­i­mum wage, re­vive the Red Line ligh­trail project in Bal­ti­more that Ho­gan sus­pended and ex­pand re­cy­cling and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­grams across the state.

On Satur­day, he took the stage at Bal­ti­more County’s Se­cu­rity Square Mall with Bal­ti­more Coun­cil mem­ber Tom Quirk, state Sen. Shirley Nathan Pul­liam and other elected Democrats and asked peo­ple to sup­port him as they pre­pare to head to the polls.

“If you help us push for these next 17 days, we’re go­ing to make a bet­ter Mary­land, we’re go­ing to win this gov­er­nor­ship and we are go­ing to change things for good,” Baker said.

Quirk had been a sup­porter of gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Kevin Kamenetz, the Bal­ti­more County ex­ec­u­tive who died un­ex­pect­edly May 10.

Now he is back­ing Baker, who has the sup­port of much of the state’s Demo­cratic es­tab­lish­ment, but ac­cord­ing to The PostU-Md. poll is lit­tle-known out­side the Wash­ing­ton sub­urbs.

“I think he’s the one Bal­ti­more County will go for,” Quirk said Satur­day. “I think he’s the win­ner, and we are go­ing to work hard to make sure that hap­pens.”

Pul­liam (D-Bal­ti­more County) has known Baker since their days in the state leg­is­la­ture but had a hard time de­cid­ing whether to back him or state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Mont­gomery), the only cur­rent state law­maker in the race.

“I look at [Baker’s] his­tory and his ex­pe­ri­ence in the ex­ec­u­tive branch of the lo­cal govern­ment, and I de­cided that’s who I wanted,” Pul­liam said. “We’ll be car­ry­ing him on Elec­tion Day.”

Baker, who has strug­gled with fundrais­ing, said he be­lieves his cam­paign is pick­ing up mo­men­tum. “We are rais­ing more money in the last week than we ever have,” he said. “It’s com­ing late, but it’s com­ing in time enough for us to get the message out there.”

Pol­i­tics and com­edy

At Mor­gan State, 34-year-old Akil Pat­ter­son sprang to the front of the au­di­to­rium with a bull­horn in his hand.

“I be­lieve that we will win,” he shouted as a di­verse crowd of about 175 peo­ple waited for Jeal­ous and Chap­pelle to ar­rive.

“I be­lieve that we will win,” the black, white, young and older vot­ers re­peated.

The event showed a dif­fer­ent side of Jeal­ous, who of­ten spends time at events talk­ing about his work at the NAACP and the “big things” he wants to do in ed­u­ca­tion, crim­i­nal jus­tice and health care in Mary­land.

Jeal­ous said Chap­pelle — whose fa­ther is Jeal­ous’s god­fa­ther — is the per­son who con­vinced him that states should le­gal­ize adult recre­ational use of mar­i­juana, which he de­scribes as an is­sue of in­equity. Jeal­ous says le­gal­iza­tion would end the scourge of vi­o­lence in Bal­ti­more and gen­er­ate tax rev­enue to help pay for uni­ver­sal prekinder­garten.

Pok­ing fun at Chap­pelle’s use of the drug and his own bira­cial back­ground, Jeal­ous told the Mor­gan State crowd a story from the 1990s. Chap­pelle had flown to Mis­sis­sippi to do a show, he said, and Jeal­ous had just been re­leased from po­lice cus­tody in the state after be­ing ar­rested in a po­lit­i­cal demon­stra­tion. Jeal­ous picked Chap­pelle up at the air­port. They were soon pulled over by po­lice.

“I was a lit­tle ner­vous. I just got out jail, my god brother has pot in his duf­fel,” Jeal­ous said, be­fore ex­plain­ing that the po­lice of­fi­cers even­tu­ally rec­og­nized Chap­pelle and let them go. “We’re two black guys in Mis­sis­sippi. I don’t know, maybe they thought I was Puerto Ri­can.”

Jeal­ous and Chap­pelle held a sim­i­lar rally in Prince Ge­orge’s County on Fri­day af­ter­noon. At both, some said they came to see Chap­pelle but left com­mit­ted to Jeal­ous.

“You guys got a won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity in this guy,” Chap­pelle told the crowd Satur­day. “I hate pol­i­tics and what’s hap­pen­ing in our cul­ture . . . This is an op­por­tu­nity to rein­vest and right our ship.”

Pol­i­tics at the pub

Out­side Ho­gan’s kick­off event, about a dozen Democrats, in­clud­ing Mary­land Demo­cratic Party Chair Kath­leen Matthews and Mary­land State Ed­u­ca­tion As­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Betty Weller, staged a small protest.

Weller, who held a “Ho­gan short­changes stu­dents” sign, said “morale is low” in schools be­cause the gov­er­nor “has not lis­tened to teach­ers or par­ents.”

In­side, how­ever, Ho­gan, who is un­op­posed in the pri­mary, told the bois­ter­ous au­di­ence that ed­u­ca­tion “has been a pri­or­ity since Day One.”

His sup­port­ers — many of whom came with their fam­i­lies — drank beer and ate bar snacks in the large Union Jack’s pub, where pool ta­bles were re-pur­posed to hold cheese plates. British flags were painted on the walls, and Amer­i­can coun­try mu­sic was blast­ing. In a white tent out­side, volunteers handed out cam­paign signs and stick­ers to at­ten­dees.

Sev­eral in the crowd said they ap­pre­ci­ated Ho­gan’s moder­ate ap­proach and his avoid­ance of con­tro­ver­sial so­cial is­sues, as well as his will­ing­ness to dis­agree with Pres­i­dent Trump, who is deeply un­pop­u­lar in Mary­land.

“Ho­gan has been very smart about dis­tanc­ing him­self from some of the more ex­treme rhetoric,” said Cameron Pritch­ett, 24.

Demo­crat Jeff Taylor, a po­lice of­fi­cer and for­mer Marine from Bal­ti­more, said he con­sid­ered vot­ing for Ho­gan’s Demo­cratic op­po­nent in 2014 but is glad he voted for the Repub­li­can.

“I’ve met him twice, and he’s a down-to-earth per­son,” said Taylor, 42. He cred­ited the gov­er­nor with mak­ing the health of the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay a pri­or­ity: “I’ve been out there fish­ing, and you can al­ready tell the dif­fer­ence.”

PETE MAROVICH FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) ad­dresses sup­port­ers dur­ing a re­elec­tion kick­off event at the Union Jack’s British Pub on Satur­day in An­napo­lis. Dur­ing the event, Ho­gan told a bois­ter­ous au­di­ence that ed­u­ca­tion “has been a pri­or­ity since Day One.”

DOUG KAPUSTIN FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Prince Ge­orge’s County Ex­ec­u­tive Rush­ern L. Baker III greets sup­port­ers at Se­cu­rity Square Mall in Bal­ti­more County on Satur­day. Baker’s cam­paign for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion for gov­er­nor is fo­cused on build­ing sup­port in Bal­ti­more.

J. LAWLER DUG­GAN FOR THE WASH­ING­TON POST

For­mer NAACP chief ex­ec­u­tive and Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Ben Jeal­ous, right, got a boost from his child­hood friend, co­me­dian Dave Chap­pelle, dur­ing a cam­paign stop at Mor­gan State Univer­sity in Bal­ti­more on Satur­day.

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