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Profiling Maryland’s 2018 gubernatorial candidates

With the Maryland gubernatorial election primaries approaching in late June of 2018, challengers of the incumbent governor’s seat are have already begun their political campaigns. Governor Hogan, whose first term began in 2015, is eligible to run for a second term. Hogan, despite being a Republican in a traditionally blue state, has enjoyed a 62% approval rate among voters, according to WTOP.

Because Hogan is a representative of the Republican party, the other contenders in this upcoming election are primarily Democrats. However, despite being unified under the Democratic party’s banner, the pool of candidates are of varying backgrounds and platforms. Candidates have until February 27 to file their campaign with the Maryland State Board of Elections, but many politicians have already announced their candidacy to garner early public support.


Alec Ross

Ross was the first candidate to announce his bid for the 2018 gubernatorial election. A tech innovator and author, Ross served as the Senior Advisor for Innovation to the previous Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His book, The Industries of the Future, is a New York Times bestseller.

If elected, Ross seeks to unroll election reforms as well as emphasize early childhood development and pre-K.  Paying special attention to education and technology on his platform, Ross stated that he would include computer science and coding classes in all public school curricula by the time students are 10 years old, according to the Washington Post.


Ben Jealous

Jealous is another frontrunner of the Democratic Party’s candidates and has received national endorsements (including from Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders). He was the former president and CEO of the NAACP, and received national acclaim for his work in reviving the organization as the youngest-ever appointed head. He has used his experience to tout himself as an advocate of civil rights and social justice reforms.

In his campaign, Jealous has called for construction of the Red Line in Baltimore, a project canceled by Hogan. Without delving into specifics, Jealous has also promised to end student debt, encourage tech innovation in Maryland, increase the quality of Maryland education, support a $15 minimum wage. He proposes to fund these programs through limiting corporation loopholes, reducing mass incarceration, and addressing the leverage held by big pharmaceutical companies. He was the second Democrat to formally announce his campaign for governor.


Rushern Baker

Baker is Prince George’s County Executive (a position parallel to Montgomery County’s Ike Leggett). He is the third Democrat to officially launch a bid for governor and has yet to raise extensive funds necessary for a campaign estimated to cost upwards of $10 million.

Baker already has significant political experience under his belt. He stepped into his current role in 2010 in the wake of a corruption scandal involving his predecessor, Jack Johnson, who was arrested by the FBI and pled guilty to criminal charges. He has established a positive reputation for himself by facilitating changes in Prince George’s County which have increased median household income and graduation rates and have decreased crime rates. Baker promises to bring about the same changes to Maryland as he has to PG County, a less affluent region of Maryland than the Washington suburbs.

In his campaign video, Baker declared, “It’s time to build a Maryland that leaves no one behind.” His platform includes support of a $15 per hour statewide minimum wage as well as more investment into the medical and education sectors. If either Jealous or Baker is elected, they would be the first black governor of Maryland.


Richard Madaleno

State senator Richard Madaleno has also entered the increasingly competitive race. He has criticized Hogan on many occasions, appealing to hard-line liberals in Maryland. Madaleno’s efforts were instrumental to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maryland and he has endorsed Planned Parenthood despite lack of support from the Trump administration. If Madaleno’s bid is successful, he will be the first openly-gay governor of Maryland, as well as the first Italian-American and the first Maryland governor from Montgomery County.


Krish Vignarajah

Vignarajah, a policy director to former First Lady Michelle Obama, seeks to make education a top priority if elected. Vignarajah said she was driven to run in part by the lack of female representation in Maryland government. However, questions have arisen regarding her eligibility as a candidate.

Maryland law dictates that a candidate must be at least 30 years old as well as a Maryland resident and registered voter for 5 years prior to the election. Because she has voted in Washington D.C. previously and has residences in both D.C. and Maryland, some have declared that these are grounds for her disqualification. Vignarajah maintains that she has been registered to vote in Maryland since 2006, and, according to the Washington Post, responded to eligibility questions: “This kind of attack is no better than Trump’s questions on President Obama’s citizenship.”


Kevin Kamenetz

This Baltimore County executive announced his candidacy in mid September, bringing with him an extensive résumé of experience in local government. Kamenetz has directed Baltimore County police to not identify undocumented immigrants among college students nor question about the immigration status of detained persons until a warrant is issued. Kamenetz also played a role in pushing $1.3 billion into school improvement and innovation. However, he received some flak over a possible violation of state ethics when a top aide emailed county government employees urging them to attend his announcement of his campaign.


Among the lesser-known and fringe candidates include Ralph Jaffe, who touts himself as a “teacher, not a politician” and owns the aptly named website domain, and Jim Shea, a Baltimore area attorney. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who runs a public policy consulting firm and is married to U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, is also vying for the position.

Just as noteworthy as the candidates are the Maryland politicians who have refused the bid for governor. Missing among the ranks include Doug Gansler, former Maryland Attorney General, who was previously considered a potentially formidable challenger. John Delaney, U.S. Representative of Maryland’s 6th Congressional District and a recognized local name, is not running for governor but has announced a presidential campaign for 2020.

The list of candidates, though, is by no means finalized– several more candidates may unveil their campaigns in the near future, although the major contenders are already seeking a polling lead early in the game.

Article by MoCo Student staff writer Emily Tian of Richard Montgomery High School

About The MoCo Student

In 2012, Student Member of the Board of Education John Mannes created a countywide press network to help build a conduit to share fresh and relevant information written by youth to the wider Montgomery County student body.

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