PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Baker Gets Weight of Prince George’s Council Behind Gubernatorial Bid

Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III will officially kick off his campaign for Maryland governor on Sept. 7.

Baker received public endorsements Tuesday from nine of the 11 members of Prince George’s County Council in a parking lot near the recently opened University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center in Largo.

“To have the nine members of council come out in mass and endorse my candidacy is really special,” he said. “These are the men and women who know me best. This is a great day.”

Baker, who served as county executive from 2010 to 2018, is the ninth Democrat to declare a bid for the governor’s seat.

It marks his second attempt at the state’s top spot after an unsuccessful run in 2018, when he finished second in the Democratic primary behind former NAACP President Ben Jealous.

His decision to run again stems partly from what he says are disparities in education and the economy exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Health care is also of personal importance to Baker as his wife, Christa, continues to battle Alzheimer’s.

“My wife and I talked about it and the kids — we have been giving a lot,” he said. “It would be selfish of us to … and not try to give back. That is one of the reasons why I decided to enter the race.”

The 62-year-old former state delegate who resides in Cheverly made economic development one of his top priorities as county executive. Some of the major projects undertaken on his watch were the $543 million hospital in Largo, the MGM casino resort at National Harbor and The Hotel at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Baker pushed to revitalize Suitland with the $400 million Towne Square at Federal Center, which broke ground in 2017 and is slated to have nearly 1,000 residential units, several businesses and a 50,000-square-foot performance arts center upon completion.

Prince George’s Councilman Rodney Streeter, who represents the Suitland area in the county’s District 7, praised Baker for leading that project when previous developers and officials show little interest in investing in that neighborhood.

“I want a governor who has a track record that he can be competent in government, attract the right people to do the work and he knows where I live,” said Streeter, who celebrated his birthday Tuesday.

Council Vice Chair Deni Taveras (D-District 2) of Adelphi said Baker supported economic development in her heavily-Latino district and “depoliticized the building of schools.”

All nine council members stood near huge signs to proclaim Prince George’s, the state’s second-most populated jurisdiction at 967,200, as “Baker Country.”

The two council members not present were Monique Anderson-Walker (D-District 8) of Fort Washington and Tom Dernoda (D-District 1) of Laurel.

Baker’s campaign manager Andrew Mallinoff said Baker asked the two for their support, but they weren’t prepared to make a decision today.

Baker faces a huge challenge against eight other Democrats during the 2022 primary on June 28.

The other Democrats are Jon Baron, a former nonprofit executive and official in the Clinton administration, State Comptroller Peter Franchot, former state Attorney General Doug Gansler, former Obama official Ashwani Jain, former U.S. Education Secretary John King Jr., author and former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore of Baltimore, former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and Baltimore businessman Mike Rosenbaum.

With term-limited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan leaving office in January 2023, it’s anticipated the Democratic primary victor could win the November 2022 general election.

All nine Democratic hopefuls are slated to attend an Oct. 14 gubernatorial candidate reception in Anne Arundel County’s Linthicum Heights, hosted by Verizon and the Maryland Black Caucus Foundation. Two Republican challengers, Del. Daniel Cox who presents portions of Frederick and Carroll counties, and perennial candidate Robin Ficker are also scheduled to attend.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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