With the July 19 primary election a little over three months away, Maryland Democrats running for governor continue to try and persuade voters that they deserve the right to lead the state.
Five of the 10 Democratic candidates recently participated in a one-hour forum Sunday at the American Legion Post 136 in Greenbelt.
With Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s second four-year term set to expire in January, there’s one main goal for this year’s election.
“Put everything we have into the effort to get a Democrat elected governor,” said Konrad Herling, president of the Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt Democratic Club which hosted the forum.
The candidates speaking at the forum included: former nonprofit executive Jon Baron; former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler; former President Barack Obama administration official Ashwani Jain; former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez; and Jerome Segal, founder of the former Bread and Roses Party.
The forum consisted of three written questions from attendees with the first on using a “magic wand” to make life better for Marylanders.
If Baron had a magic stick, he would launch a partnership with private businesses to offer job training for every young adult statewide in “fast-growing” industries such as health care and information technology.
Gansler would use “less wizardry and more experience” in combating crime. His ideas include establishing domestic violence and drug courts in every jurisdiction in the state – an accomplishment he highlights as the only candidate handling criminal justice reform.
Jain, the youngest candidate running for governor at age 32, simply said, “I would make politics inclusive and accessible. I believe if residents are not given a seat at the table in a very easy way, none of those policies will be equitable.”
After Perez said his magic wand would be used to “make sure everyone gets a fair shake,” he received applause from some in the audience in joining the opposition against the maglev high-speed train project.
The Baltimore Washington Rapid Rail proposes to build an estimated 40-mile stretch between Washington and Baltimore mostly below ground but with nearly nine miles above ground in Prince George’s County with no stops.
Segal, a former philosophy professor, said time would be his magic potion to help Marylanders by decreasing the number of work hours. He said a person spends too much time in a car, so he proposes to incorporate policies for investing in electric vehicles which would also preserve the environment.
Two differences presented during the Sunday forum dealt with school resource officers, known as SROs, to provide safety in the public schools.
Gansler supports them in the schools but Jain doesn’t. Both reside in Montgomery County, the state’s biggest jurisdiction and where officials continue to consider whether to bring them back after County Executive Marc Elrich removed the SRO program from the county budget for the 2021-22 school year.
Several other candidates did not attend including author and former nonprofit executive Wes Moore. However, he received a major endorsement Saturday, April 2 from the Maryland State Education Association. The organization with 76,000 members also comes with a volunteer base stretched across the state.
“Our students and communities need leadership committed to the promise that no matter their neighborhood they will have the same opportunity to reach their potential,” Association President Cheryl Bost said in a statement. “Wes Moore has demonstrated a commitment to unite people who he leads in the fight for racial, social justice and to give educators a voice in the decisions and policies that affect education.”
The other four Democratic candidates include: former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III; former U.S. Education Secretary John King, Jr.; state Comptroller Peter Franchot; and former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman.
Susan Taylor of Hillcrest Heights attended Sunday’s forum to hear the candidates’ platforms, especially Moore after reading his book, “The Other Wes Moore” and working as CEO of the anti-poverty Robin Hood Foundation.
“I wanted to know what his views are and what Maryland needs for the next governor,” said Taylor, who remains undecided. “I thought the forum was interesting. There were some people that I recognized and liked some of the things they said but they have no chance of winning. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out.”
The Democrat who wins in the July 19 primary will face a challenger in the November general election.
Former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz has been endorsed by her former boss, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, whose term expires in January. 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.
While Maryland primaries only remain open for Democrats and Republicans, two others have registered as candidacies for the general election: Libertarian candidate David Lashar of Annapolis and Independent candidate Kyle Sefcik from Montgomery County.