DemDaily: Battling for the Rebound

June 21, 2018

In one of the most closely-watched gubernatorial contests, two Maryland Democrats are in a dead heat going into next week's June 26th primaries.

A May 29-June 6, 2018 Baltimore Sun poll showed Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and Former NAACP President Ben Jealous in a dead heat in the battle for the opportunity to unseat incumbent Repubican Governor Larry Hogan.

Maryland is one of 36 states holding an election for Governor in 2018, and one of 33 currently held by a Republican, with 16 under Democratic control and one held by an Independent.

Maryland's government is under a "divided triplex control," with a Republican Governor and Secretary of State, John Wobensmith, and a Democratic Attorney General, Brian Frosh.  Both the State Senate (33D/14R) and House (91D/50R) are under Democratic Control.

Nine Democrats are challenging Incumbent Governor Larry Hogan (R)  (pic: WashPost)

A traditionally blue state where Democrats out number Republicans 2-to-1 in voter registration, Marylanders have voted for the Democratic candidate in the last five presidential elections, delivering Hillary Clinton a 26% win over Donald Trump in 2016.

Larry Hogan succeeded two-term Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley, who had unseated incumbent Republican Governor Bob Ehrlich in 2006.  Prior to that a Democrat had occupied the Governor's mansion since 1969.

A former real estate developer, Hogan and Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford were elected in 2014 with 51% in a tough general election against then Democratic Lt. Governor
Anthony Brown who secured 47.2%.

Hogan has a 64% approval rating and, according to a 2017 Q4 Morning Consult poll, is rated the nation's second most popular governor.

Larger stakes are also at play, with the 2021 redistricting around the corner. While the Maryland legislature draws the lines for the new Congressional map, the Governor has veto power, and authority to draw his own state legislative district map if the legislature cannot agree on its own map.

While Hogan is unchallenged in his primary, nine candidates are competing for the Democratic nomination.

The frontrunner race between Baker and Jealous has drawn analogies to the Hillary Clinton-Bernie Sanders presidential primary, with Baker cast as the establishment favorite, and Jealous as the candidate of the party's progressive wing.

Democratic primary candidates Alex Ross, Krishanti Vignarajah, Rushern Baker, Richard Madaleno, Ben Jealous, James Shea  ( pic: BaltimoreSun)

Rushern Baker, who served in the State House for  a decade before his two terms as County Executive, has the endorsement of many of the state's top lawmakers, including US Senator Chris Van Hollen, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D), former Governors Martin O'Malley and Parris Glendening (D), as well as The Washington Post.

Baker's running mate is Elizabeth Embry, former Maryland Attorney General Crime Division Chief and 2016 candidate for Mayor of Baltimore.

Ben Jealous, a civil rights leader who served as President of the Maryland NAACP before taking the national helm, has the endorsements of Senators Sanders (VT), Cory Booker (NJ) and Kamala Harris (CA) as well as the Working Families Party of Maryland and the Baltimore Sun.  He also has the benefit of more than $1 million in outside support from national progressive organizations and labor unions.

Jealous' running mate is Susie Turnbull, former Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and former Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Jealous Ad appeals to a younger generation  (click)

The other Democratic candidates include State Senator Richard Madaleno, Attorney James Shea, former Michelle Obama Policy Director Krishanti Vignarajah, author and former State Department official Alec Ross, former Montgomery County councilwoman Valerie Ervin, perennial candidate Ralfe Jaffe and James Jones.

In a June 4-6, 2018 Gonzales Research poll showed Baker @25%, Jealous @23% and the rest under 10%.

The outcome of the Democratic primary is pitted by some as a referendum on the direction of the Party's future. In the general election Democrats are counting on the loyalty of their voters, and a boost from the anticipated blue wave of 2018 to sway undecided voters and flip the seat.

They are off to a good start. Three times as many Democrats as Republicans have cast early primary votes, which began June 14th and ends at 8pm tonight.

Maryland, which is a closed (must be registered with a party) primary state, will also be electing their party nominees for US Senate, US House (7D/1R), Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, ComptrollerState Senate & House, Supreme Court, Appellate Courts, Local Judges, School Boards and Municipal races in all but Baltimore County.
Vote in the June 26th Primary!
Register:  To Vote or Check Your Registration 
Where To Vote:  Find your polling place.


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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Ballotpedia, BaltimoreSun, WashingtonPost, MarylandDemocraticParty, MarylandBoardOfElections

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