Maryland Democrats continue to push for unity to defeat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in the November general elections.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. led an Aug. 23 press conference outside Suitland High School in Forestville for Democrats to endorse former NAACP President Ben Jealous for governor.
“This is about identifying the person to lead our state, to guide our state and to make Maryland number one again in terms of education,” Miller said amid a few dozen state and county officials from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and Baltimore City. “Education and Jealous in November. We can make it happen.”
Miller, the longest-serving president of a state Senate in the nation, has received strong criticism from some fellow Democrats.
During a Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee meeting Tuesday, a few people chastised Miller for leading an effort to ensure incumbents and chosen candidates won in the June primary election with the use of the phrase “official sample ballot” on campaign literature.
The county candidates Miller publicly supported that won in the primary included state Delegate Susie Proctor, State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks and County Councilman Mel Franklin.
However, Miller backed County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, who finished second behind Jealous for the gubernatorial nomination. And two state senators first elected more than 20 years ago with Miller’s support — Thomas Middleton of Charles County and chair of the Finance Committee, and Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore City and chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee — lost in the primary.
Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the Prince George’s Educators Association and a staunch Jealous supporter, said Thursday it’s about putting personal feelings aside to increase Democratic harmony.
“Sometimes, there’s no permanent enemies and there’s no permanent friends in politics,” she said. “But when you working together on an issue so important as replacing Larry Hogan with Ben Jealous, I can work with anybody.”
As for Miller, 75, he will have an opponent in the general election in legislative district 27 that includes portions of Prince George’s, Calvert and Charles counties.
Jesse Peed, a Republican, has challenged Miller to a debate and said in a statement Miller “is only focused on his power and not on the people.”
On the same day of last week’s press conference at Suitland High School, the state’s Republican Party released a poll memo that shows Hogan leading Jealous by a 57 percent to 28 percent in terms of name recognition in Miller’s district, based on a survey from 300 “likely voters.” Hogan has a larger lead in House Speaker Michael Busch’s district in Anne Arundel County, according to the poll.
“The Maryland Republican Party believes that Governor Hogan’s strength in Miller and Busch’s districts provide substantial opportunities [for Republican challengers],” the party said in a statement. “Both the Senate president and speaker should be concerned about their re-election bids.”
Meanwhile, the Hogan campaign released another television campaign ad Thursday titled “Protecting Maryland.” It focuses on the governor’s crime initiatives and being tough on violent criminals.
“Let me be crystal-clear: I have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for these repeat, violent offenders and these criminal gangs causing lawlessness in our streets,” Hogan said in the ad.
Hogan’s campaign also published other ads that criticized Jealous’s proposed policies would cost too much for Marylanders. The campaign has spent about $1 million on various television ads in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1.
“Negative ads suppress votes and that’s the only way he wins,” Jealous said during a brief interview with reporters. “We’re going to run a positive ground-game. We’re organizers. The way we win is we inspire people to turn out [and vote].”