Today is a day for winners to celebrate and the Ben Jealous-Susie Turnbull ticket is certainly entitled to do that after an impressive win with just under 40% of vote in a crowded field, according to preliminary returns. (I don’t expect absentee or provisional ballots to change the results much.).
Perhaps most impressively, Jealous carried 22 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions. The exceptions were Prince George’s, Rushern Baker’s home base, and Calvert, which is right next door. Even in Prince George’s, Jealous did respectably. Baker won 50% to 38% for Jealous – not far off his statewide percentage.
While not a majority, it sets up Jealous well as the clear winner and better positioned than eking out a narrow statewide win as he pivots to the general election. One might also note that the top two candidates were both African Americans and together won 88% of the vote, which should perhaps quiet talk that Democrats are unwilling to vote for black candidates for a bit.
The biggest advantages Jealous has going into the general election are the political nature of the state and national trends. Maryland is one of the few states that voted slightly more for Hillary Clinton in 2016 than for Barack Obama in 2012. Places Clinton won with 60% of the vote are not looking good for Republicans lately.
Even more crucially, the political climate is utterly reversed from four years ago. In 2014, the Democratic vote was depressed as a Republican wave crossed the country. Today, Maryland Democrats are hopping mad and energized in opposition to Trump and his supine Republican supporters.
Hogan will try to distance himself from his party label but in a Democratic state in a Democratic year, waves can overtake even the best efforts. Regardless, the popular Hogan will have to continue to run a good campaign to stay in office.
So today is a day for Jealous and his supporters to celebrate. Next up, what challenges does Jealous face as he looks to become Maryland’s governor?