Dozens attend the Young Democrats of Maryland convention in Annapolis on Feb. 19. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Dozens attend the Young Democrats of Maryland convention in Annapolis on Feb. 19. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

ANNAPOLIS — State Sen. Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County will be the next governor of Maryland, if young Democrats have their say.

Madaleno received 44 percent of the 55 votes in a gubernatorial straw poll conducted Monday during the Young Democrats of Maryland convention at the Wiley Bates Legacy Center in the state capitol. Former NAACP President Ben Jealous came in second with 18 percent of the vote, followed by tech entrepreneur Alec Ross with 16 percent.

Madaleno, who spoke at the convention, also presented running mate Luwanda Jenkins, a former aide of Gov. Martin O’Malley. Jenkins, 55, is currently chief operating officer for The LEADERship, a nonprofit organization that works with those from Baltimore who seek leadership positions.

Maryland state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Richard Madaleno (left) stands next to running mate Luwanda Jenkins at a Young Democrats of Maryland convention in Annapolis on Feb. 19. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

“We need your generation to come out and vote in numbers,” Jenkins told the attendees. “You got to be a part of the process and that’s why we need your support.”

Other candidates in attendance included Ross, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamanetz, Krish Vignaraja, former policy director for first lady Michelle Obama, and Jealous running mate Susie Turnbull. Kamenetz and Vignarajah both received 8 percent of the vote in the straw poll.

Ross introduced his running mate, Julie Verratti, who co-owns Denizens Brewing in Silver Spring and is a former senior adviser of the U.S. Small Business Association.

When asked about the timetable to announce his running mate, Kamenetz said, “Stay tuned.”

Vignarajah wouldn’t commit to when she’s declare a running mate.

Jim Shea said last week Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott would run as his lieutenant governor.

It’s unclear whether Ralph Jaffe of Baltimore County, whose name wasn’t mentioned in the straw poll, when he’ll announce a running mate.

Before the poll results were announced, Ashley Sharp, 25, of Bowie reviewed the group’s platform, separated under 14 headings such as education, poverty and criminal justice reform.

The items noted for “a more progressive, successful, and fair future that meets the needs of all residents” include:

• Support adequate funding for all fine and performing arts, physical education, health science and vocation and technical training programs;

• Support a person’s right to bring their physical sexual characteristics into parity with their gender identity; and

• Support the legalization of medical marijuana.

Najee Bailey, 23, president of the Young Democrats of Howard County, said he has yet to settle on a candidate.

“They seemed a lot more focused than when I’ve seen them in past forums,” Bailey said of the candidates who showed up. “I think it’s a good opportunity to hear everybody on the issues and how they align with the other candidates.”

One conspicuously absent candidate was Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, whose campaign announced via email Monday he will officially file his candidacy Tuesday in Annapolis for the June 26 primary and declare Elizabeth Embry, chief of the criminal division at the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, as his running mate.

Joseph Kitchen, 31, president of the Young Democrats, lambasted the gubernatorial hopefuls who didn’t attend Monday’s convention, especially Baker.

“It is unacceptable when candidates running for the Democratic nomination do not show up to these forums,” said Kitchen of Fairmount Heights. “This is not the first forum Rushern Baker missed.”

According to a flier from United for Maryland, Baker and six other candidates will attend a forum Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Baltimore War Memorial.

The candidate filing deadline is Feb. 27 at 9 p.m.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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