Prince George’s County has the highest number of Democrats in the state of Maryland and outnumber Republicans in the county 10 to 1, but a slew of Republican candidates are confident changes will come in the future.
With more than 40,000 registered members of the GOP in Prince George’s, at least four Black candidates in the Nov. 6 general election are running to push for change. Three of the four are of Nigerian descent and briefly spoke about their platforms at a gathering Saturday, Sept. 29 at Cheverly Town Park.
“This is a Republican movement. It is time for us to take our position in this county,” said Felicia Folarin of Bowie, an insurance agent of Nigerian ancestry who’s running for one of two at-large seats on County Council against two Democrats, County Councilman Mel Franklin (D-District 9) of Upper Marlboro and Calvin Hawkins. “We need to change things right from the bottom, all the way up.”
One reason for optimism stems from three recent polls that show Republican Gov. Larry Hogan with a double-digit lead over Democratic nominee and former NAACP President Ben Jealous.
The most recent poll from Mason-Dixon released Friday, Sept. 28 shows more than 60 percent believe in Hogan’s job performance as governor. The poll also show Hogan leading among independents with 58 percent among the 625 statewide voters surveyed, compared to 26 percent for Jealous.
“Voters should consider the best candidates who has the best strategies and ideas,” said Brandon Cooper, president of the Prince George’s Republican Party, who helped organize Saturday’s event. “It should be about the person and not the party.”
Several GOP candidates running for state and federal offices briefly explained why the state and county need leadership changes from what they call “one-party rule” based on Democrats outnumbering Republicans 2 to 1 in Maryland.
For instance, all members of the Prince George’s County Council are Democrats.
That didn’t stop the county’s Republican Central Committee filing a complaint last month to the county’s Office of Ethics and Accountability that accuses an employee who works for County Councilman Obie Patterson (D-District 8) of Fort Washington of using his office to send emails to residents for a political event in support of Jealous.
According to the complaint, Shirley Anglin, a citizen services specialist in Patterson’s office, distributed a flier Sept. 14 on behalf of “Team Patterson 26th District and Prince George’s County Central Committee District 26” to attend a reception for Jealous on Friday, Oct. 5 at Harborside Hotel in Oxon Hill.
“He’s the right choice that will work for our Marylanders,” the email states.
Patterson, who’s running for state senator against Republican Ike Pukon of Temple Hills, didn’t return messages this week for comment.
“It is our understanding that this event has been cancelled and that this email was sent in error,” said Jealous campaign spokeswoman Jerusalem Demsas.
A March 16 letter from Robin Barnes-Shell, executive director of the ethics office, outlines two restrictions for county employees regarding political activities: “no political activity can be engaged in while on the job during work hours;” and “county law also prohibits using county resources for private political activities” that include use of a computer, email, fax machines and vehicles.
The GOP committee asked the ethics office to determine if other emails came from Patterson’s office for his campaign and promote other candidates.
Barnes-Shell didn’t respond to phone and email messages for comment.
Some of the campaign literature outline similar proposals: no new taxes; term limits for elected officials; and increase accountability among school officials.
Some Blacks proudly adhere to conservative values. Tony Campbell of Baltimore County, running for U.S. Senate against longtime Sen. Ben Cardin, said one of his first duties on Capitol Hill would be to eliminate the Common Core curriculum from public education.
Campbell, an Army veteran, outlines on his campaign literature “no tax increases and a balanced budget” and “#DISCARDIN.”
Three Black GOP candidates who seek to represent Prince George’s will pursue lawmaker positions in the Maryland General Assembly.
Fred Price Jr., a former Cheverly councilman who served in the Marines from 1958-61, sported a red and white T-shirt with the state of Maryland and a quote: “End one party rule.”
“We’re living good in Cheverly, but the rest of the district is catching hell,” said Price, who’s running for state Senate in legislative District 47 against Metro alternate board director Malcolm Augustine. “How does one party control everything [and] says everything is all right? It’s not.”
Winnie Obike, who resides in Hyattsville and pursuing a doctorate in communications at the University of Maryland, will try to obtain votes in legislative District 22 against three current Democratic delegates: Tawanna Gaines, Anne Healey and Alonzo Washington.
Part of her platform stems from helping immigrants, which includes instituting a green-card program on a statewide level. She doesn’t support the sanctuary city designation because it allows criminals easier access to residency.
“We can’t wait for the federal government to solve immigration,” said Obike, who’s both of Nigerian and Cameroon descent. “Maryland is an immigrant-friendly state and we should reflect that in our state laws.”
Chike Anyanwu has a somewhat crowded race for three open seats in legislative District 21 that represents portions of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties.
He will face current Democratic delegates Joseline Peña-Melnyk and Ben Barnes. County Councilwoman Mary Lehman (D-District 1) of Laurel represents the third Democrat. Fellow Republican Richard Douglas and Ray Ranker, who’s registered with an unaffiliated party, are also on the ballot.
As an instructor with the Maryland Transit Administration, Anyanwu said the state should increase bus service and other transit options for seniors. He also wants to incorporate more vocational programs in the Prince George’s school system, which he said has fewer options compared to Howard and Anne Arundel counties.
“I want to give back,” said Anyanwu of Odenton in Anne Arundel County, who moved from Nigeria to the United States 23 years ago. “This country has afforded me so much. I want my voice to be heard [and] make sure things go the right way.”