Ben Jealous understands education, preserve health care for all and the right to pay workers a minimum of $15 an hour.
Those sentiments about the former NAACP president came Thursday from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who endorsed Jealous for the Democratic nomination in the Maryland governor’s race.
“Ben knows … there is an enormous amount of pain in this country. There are millions and millions of people … asking a very simple question. Does anybody know what my life is about?” Sanders said before several hundred people at the Silver Spring Civic Center. “I strongly support the next governor of the great state of Maryland, Ben Jealous.”
Jealous, who worked last year as a surrogate on Sanders’ presidential campaign in the Democratic primary, also received endorsements from the American Postal Workers Union Maryland and Our Revolution, a progressive organization derived from the Sanders campaign and now led by former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner.
Several in the crowd held “Ben Jealous for Governor” signs and sported “Feel the Bern” T-shirts.
“It sounds like Maryland is ready for a political revolution,” Sanders said as the crowd erupted into rousing applause.
Sanders plans on supporting Jealous at another rally in Maryland later this year in Baltimore, said Jealous campaign spokesman Kevin Harris.
Jealous’s campaign spotlights similar topics as Sanders such as debt free community and four-year college, a single-payer health care and eradicating mass incarceration.
Jealous, 44, said every public school should employ qualified teachers. In addition, he said the state’s casino revenue should enhance the schools and not replace current funding.
He will face at least four challengers in the Democratic primary on June 26, 2018, including Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III. Another three could join the race to challenge popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College in Towson, said having two prominent black men in the Democratic primary seeking a high-profile office is rarely seen. Kromer said one factor favors Jealous: name recognition, especially with the NAACP and working on the Sanders campaign.
“We are going to find out very soon if [Jealous] can translate that national name recognition … and operate in these state level power structures,” she said. “The Democratic Party in Maryland has always been the biggest show in town with a 2-to-1 ratio. However, he hasn’t been a part of that.”
The two Maryland jurisdictions with the majority of the state’s black vote are Baltimore and Prince George’s.
Several Prince George’s residents under age 30 such as school board member Edward Burroughs III support Jealous’ vision for the state.
“Issues that matter to the people I represent matter to Ben,” he said. “He has a track record that leads me to believe he’s going to be great for everyday people.”