Celebrating practically painting the state blue, after two years away due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maryland Democratic Party returned in person for the annual legislative luncheon on Jan. 10. A day before the kickoff of the 445th legislative session for the Maryland General Assembly, the luncheon featured a lineup packed with local leaders who commended the party’s wins and emphasized the need to get to work.
“This is not just that the Democratic Party knows how to win elections. It’s that we know how to govern,” said Maryland Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D), the event’s keynote speaker. “We know how to put together policies so that every single part of the state knows that we see them, that we hear them and we are prioritizing the way we talk about their future.”
From the beginning of the luncheon’s program, speakers walked a fine line of celebrating good times and reiterating the importance of not getting too comfortable.
After U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) received an audience-wide serenade of “Happy Birthday,” (as the luncheon fell on his 64th birthday), he thanked the crowd, then gave them a call to action.
“I’m thrilled to be with you on my birthday. It’s a gift to celebrate our victories. It’s also a gift to get together to dedicate ourselves to the work ahead,” Van Hollen said.
Celebrating a New Beginning
The senator and each speaker expressed deep gratitude for the hard work of the state’s Democratic Party, also known as the Maryland Dems, chaired by Yvette Lewis.
After eight years of a Republican-led Maryland, with Gov. Larry Hogan at the helm, Democratic Gov.-Elect Wes Moore, Lt. Gov.-elect Aruna Miller and Comptroller-elect Brooke Lierman will be running the state, and many thanked the diligence of the Maryland Dems in getting the job done. All of the aforementioned soon-to-be officials and the Speaker of Maryland’s House of Delegates Adrienne Jones (D-District 10) are not only victorious politicians, but historymakers.
“For the first time ever in the history of the state, we’ve got an African American speaker, we’re bringing in an African American governor, we’ve got an African American treasurer, we have a woman as the comptroller, we have a woman of color serving as the next lieutenant governor. It’s a great time in the state of Maryland,” said Maryland State Del. Nick Charles (D-District 25), chairman of the Prince George’s County House Delegation and vice chair of the House Democratic Caucus. “We have a supermajority in the House and in the Senate.”
There are 102 Democratic Delegates coming into the Maryland General Assembly, in comparison to the 39 Republicans.
After last week’s tumultuous time in the House of Representatives, when Republicans took 15 ballots before confirming Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) as Speaker of the House, Maryland leaders are confident in state legislators’ abilities to get the job done.
“Congratulations to the returning members and the new members and I dare say to Speaker Jones and President Ferguson, I don’t think it’s going to take 15 ballots tomorrow,” Van Hollen said, garnering loud laughs from the audience.
Charles echoed the senator’s sentiments, assuring the Informer in an interview, that the challenges that happened at the federal level have no place on Maryland’s House floor.
“What you won’t see in the state of Maryland is that level of confusion,” he said.
In uplifting both bipartisan and inner-party unity, the event’s speakers told the room full of local leaders that there needs to be an intentional focus on addressing challenges. Child poverty, inequity and environmental injustice were some of the issues Moore said he and his administration hope to fix, working alongside state, local and community officials.
“When we say… environmental injustice is something that we will not stand for, that we will put together policies so all of our children can feel safe from the air that they breathe, to the water that they drink, to the food that they are eating, we are going to make that argument from Westminster to West Baltimore, and we are going to win on that argument,” Moore said, among a litany of promises to leave no part of the state behind in meeting residents’ needs.
“This is our time, we’re going to move fast, and it’s not just because it’s what the people asked for, it’s what Marylanders deserve,” Moore added.
This year was Sylvia Johnson’s first time attending the luncheon. As a business owner, commissioner in Prince George’s County for HRC, and at-large member for the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee, Johnson said she came to the event to make sure she is ready to fulfill her duties and properly represent residents.
“I just want to make sure that we’re all aligned in what we’re saying, what we’re going to do. and how we’re going to conduct ourselves moving forward,” she said.
As she prepared to leave the luncheon, Johnson underscored the importance of getting to work.
“The elections are over, the parties are winding down, and now it’s time to take real action. And that’s what I want to see.”