For the first time in two years, the Maryland Democratic Party hosted its annual gala in hopes of boosting enthusiasm for the upcoming primary election which they consider critical in their goal of regaining control of the governor’s mansion.
This year’s gala also marked the first time it has been held in Prince George’s County since 2015.
As of April, the state Board of Elections shows the majority Black jurisdiction has the state’s highest number of Democrats at 462,550.
“Energy is very high and people are excited about being together again,” Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Thursday, May 26 at the Camelot by Martin’s in Upper Marlboro.
“All of the other issues that are emerging across the country are also causing Democrats to come together to be united and very motivated to get our residents to the polls to make sure our agenda and our values are on the ballot,” she said.
And while Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by a 2-to-1 ratio, the majority of voters chose Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, whose final year in office ends in January 2023, for two consecutive terms.
His upcoming departure from office serves as the reason that nine candidates have emerged with hopes to secure the Democratic Party’s endorsement. The candidates, each of whom spoke briefly during the gala, included: retired research scholar Jerome Segal; Comptroller Peter Franchot; former U.S. Education secretary John King, Jr.; former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain; former U.S. Labor and state labor secretary Tom Perez; former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler; former nonprofit executive and military veteran Wes Moore; former nonprofit executive Jon Baron; and former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.
When King took the stage, more than a dozen supporters cheered and hoisted signs showcasing his name and that of his running mate, Michelle Siri.
King said the party “needs to stop acting like Hogan Democrats . . . and replace the era of status quo with an era of hope, ambition and real progress.”
Party leadership invited Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) to help boost confidence as campaigning efforts begin to hit their peak less than two months before the state’s July 19 primary election.
In March, Booker gave passionate remarks during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for now-Supreme Court Justice-designate Ketanji Brown Jackson. His words brought Jackson to tears.
Although his fellow Democrats in Upper Marlboro didn’t cry, many applauded, cheered and waved their hands throughout Booker’s 24-minute speech which had elements that bore a striking similarity to a minister’s sermon.
“We stand up for women’s rights. We stand up for Roe v. Wade. We’re the party of compassion. We’re the party of love. We’re the party that looks out for one another. We’re the party of we and not the party of me,” Booker said.
Even after Tuesday’s elementary school shooting in Texas and the unprecedented cat fights between members of Congress that have emerged along party lines on Capitol Hill, Booker urged Maryland Democrats to remain diligent.
“Faith without works is dead, so we’ve got to work today. We’ve got to work tomorrow,” he said, raising his voice a little louder. “If we have that kind of faith . . . we will win, again. Stay faithful, Maryland. Stay faithful.”
An additional six candidates, also seeking the Maryland governor’s seat, include four Republicans, a Libertarian and a registered Independent ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has thrown his support behind former Department of Commerce secretary Kelly Schulz.
Del. Daniel Cox, who represents parts of Carroll and Frederick counties, has received support from former President Donald Trump.
The other two Republican candidates include former state Del. Robin Ficker of Montgomery County and Joe Werner of Baltimore County.
Because only registered Democrats or Republicans can vote in the primaries, two other people will be on the ballot for the general election: Libertarian candidate David Lashar of Annapolis and independent candidate Kyle Sefcik from Montgomery County.
But Maryland’s Democrats have made it clear that they want a member of their party to lead the state and follow in the footsteps of Martin O’Malley, who served from January 2007 until January 2015.
“We have a cabinet that’s running for the Republican ticket that will take us down a terrible slope,” said Sen. Joanne C. Benson (D-District 24) of Landover. “We’ve got to come together to put aside all foolishness, unless we don’t want the state of Maryland to continue to prosper.”