Tag Archives: Ben Jealous

MCEA’s Awkward Alliance

This year, the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) – the teachers union – decided to support Ben Jealous for governor. Fine, so far.

But this just got very awkward after last night’s education forum. Except for Rich Madaleno from Montgomery, all of the other candidates, including Ben Jealous, embraced a new wealth based formula for education funding that just kills Montgomery.

I imagine it also does little for affluent Howard. The new formula  zeros out funding for Talbot, Kent, and Worcester counties. Not only would it eliminate all no state aid for these three Eastern Shore jurisdictions, it also would require all that money to be made up in local taxes. Every penny cut would be required by state law to be replaced by local funds.

If there is one thing MCEA opposes, it’s cutting funds for Montgomery County Public Schools. Now, they’re supporting a candidate who wants to siphon large sums of money away from Montgomery to other jurisdictions.

Beyond the large number of portable classrooms, Montgomery faces a growing number of students who need extra help for a variety of reasons but who don’t come from families with a lot of extra money to help pick up the slack.

In the past, Adam Pagnucco has written about state funding formulas are already skewed against Montgomery, even as we face burgeoning problems in the public schools. Separately, a hike in the millionaires tax, paid primarily by Montgomery, has helped fund a burst of construction in Baltimore and elsewhere in the State.

The changes endorsed by all candidates except Madaleno would massively undermine efforts by Montgomery to address the achievement gap here. Indeed, the County would be hard pressed to maintain its current commitment with the size of cuts proposed, as Adam has explained well in a piece aptly titled “Hell, No!”

While this is awkward for Montgomery advocates of greater state school funding who support a variety of candidates, I imagine it might dismay county officials who support Rushern Baker at least partly in the hope that the D.C. area would get more attention to its increasingly serious needs.

But the problem is particularly acute for MCEA. They’ve found themselves behind a candidate whose platform would result in enormous pressure on the salaries and pensions of their members or force major cuts elsewhere in an already pressed county budget despite county efforts for years to protect education funding.

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Sun Endorses Jealous

This morning, the Baltimore Sun endorsed Ben Jealous for governor:

Maryland voters deserve a real choice in November’s election for governor, and we believe Democrat Ben Jealous provides the clearest alternative to Gov. Larry Hogan. It’s not just that the former NAACP president and CEO has the stature or political skills to run a competitive campaign against the popular and extremely well funded Republican incumbent (though he does), it’s that he presents the strongest contrast to the governor in his vision for the state. We give him our endorsement in the Democratic primary.

Jealous is already doing well in the Baltimore region and this should only aid his efforts there.

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Our Revolution is Neither

Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign resonated with Democratic voters in a rare way. While he did not achieve the success of Barack Obama’s electrifying 2008 election, his campaign helped create a spontaneous movement of support. Certainly, I saw it among my students who overwhelmingly favored Sanders and felt about him much like I had about Obama.

But spontaneous happenings only achieve long-term success if they institutionalize themselves and evolve into something more than what was once known as a happening in the 1960s. The Sanders movement has done that as the Sanders’ call for “a revolution” has evolved into the decidedly non-revolutionary organization called Our Revolution.

Our Revolution Maryland’s (ORM) approach in this election is emblematic of this new highly institutionalized, even establishment, approach. The campaign by Ben Jealous, a co-chair of Sanders’ 2016 bid, has all the spontaneity of your average Brezhnev-era central committee meeting. The contrast with the 2016 Bernie Sanders campaign could hardly be greater.

While Sanders supporters bitterly objected to what they viewed as the Democratic National Committee’s tilt in favor of Hillary Clinton, that has nothing on ORM’s “process” for endorsing a gubernatorial nominee. Before the official process even began, Jealous told other candidates in no uncertain terms that ORM and Sanders’ organization would back him.

Prior to the launch of ORM’s kabuki endorsement process, ORM’s Director appeared right behind Jealous at the announcement of his gubernatorial campaign. Unsurprisingly, no other gubernatorial candidate agreed to participate in ORM’s endorsement charade because they didn’t want to validate a pre-determined outcome.

The Jealous campaign has been no less establishment. Its pollster, for example, is Fred Yang. He’s a deservedly well-respected Washington Democratic pollster. Yang has also worked on campaigns for numerous other mainstream Democratic candidates and issues, such as the Maryland marriage equality referendum in 2012.

Jealous’ running mate, Susie Turnbull, has held no elective office but she practically defines the term “insider” as a wealthy and connected former Maryland Democratic Party Chair – and not a renegade choice for that position. Turnbull has also long been very active in national DNC politics. Hardly the choice of a self-proclaimed revolutionary running to take down the Democratic establishment.

ORM has also made the highly strategic choice to avoid endorsing in the U.S. Senate campaign in order to support Jealous. Most mainstream Democrats regard U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin as a great guy but the more overtly hardline progressives are not happy, especially about Cardin’s unflinching support for Israel. ORM didn’t endorse either of Cardin’s more left-wing primary challengers as part of an effort to keep the influential Cardin out of the gubernatorial race.

As it turns out, the vaunted vanguard of the progressive revolution is not so different from the mainstream Democratic Party. Jealous hires the same political people, has an establishment running mate and received the pre-determined support of a political organization that, in turn, has tactically decided not to endorse other progressive candidates to help out Jealous.

It’s not surprising that Jealous would take this route. The NAACP remains the grand old dame and most established of African-American organizations. Moreover, the reason smart candidates don’t expect their campaign to be spontaneous electrifying happenings is that approach generally doesn’t work.

Just don’t expect much revolutionary out of Our Revolution or its candidate. Jealous decries half-measures and enjoys citing his grandmother’s wisdom that if you only fix half of a problem, you still have a problem. But, if elected, you should still expect lots of compromises, a hallmark of the American political system, or not much to happen at all. The revolutionary rhetoric cannot really mask a non-revolutionary approach.

That’s all to the good, as revolution is vastly overrated and most don’t turn out nearly as well as the American version.

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Ben Jealous’s Need to Claim Credit for Marriage Equality is Just so Wrong

It’s a strange day when a straight man takes credit for marriage equality in Maryland but Ben Jealous is that guy.

I’m certainly happy that the NAACP moved to endorse marriage equality on his watch. It was a good decision and showed leadership. But it is a far cry from claiming to be the critical guy who made marriage equality happen.

In debates and on twitter, Jealous and his campaign have repeatedly cited the Baltimore Sun editorial honoring him as Marylander of Year as evidence to back up his claim. Indeed, it’s a generous editorial:

“Maryland is a better state — and ours is a more perfect union — because of Ben Jealous and his commitment to justice, equality, and the dignity of every child’s home,” Governor O’Malley said. “Here in Maryland, he was an indispensable part of repealing the death penalty, passing the Maryland Dream Act, ensuring civil marriage equality and expanding access to voting.”

When it comes to his being “indispensable” on marriage equality, however, Jealous and his campaign have been categorically unable and unwilling to provide any evidence to back up the claims of the editorial.

When the Jealous campaign tweeted a link to the editorial at me, I read it and then asked which legislators’ minds he had changed. The reply is revealing:

In other words, Jealous cannot identify a single legislator who changed their mind thanks to his efforts. I followed up by asking how many community organizers he had placed on the ground, as he claimed that had made the difference:

Personally, I preferred the Taylor Swift version of his reply. But again, it’s revealing. Rather than answer the hard-hitting question, he attacks the questioner. It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to accuse me of “pride” when he’s the guy claiming to have gotten marriage equality and numerous other legislative initiatives done.

So ultimately, beyond the editorial and the nice quote from Martin O’Malley of the sort that politicians tend to give when asked about someone receiving an award, we’re left with a whole lot of bupkis for evidence.

As someone who was actively part of Equality Maryland’s legislative lobbying team and Co-President of Equality Maryland during the referendum fight, I have some knowledge on the question. Jealous never showed up at any of the strategy sessions held with key legislators that I attended.

Jealous  was certainly never mentioned when it came to recruiting key votes on the issues. Carrie Evans, the Executive Director of Equality Maryland, played a key role in recruiting at least one Republican to a yes vote. Rep. Jamie Raskin, then a state senator, played a similar role in wooing the vote of a colleague on the fence.

Most importantly, I know that Sen. Rich Madaleno, who I support, spent years indefatigably working on this issue long before it was fashionable. As part of a long-term strategy, he built legislative capital and support to get the bill on the floor and passed. So many outsider candidates like to denigrate Annapolis politics, yet how do they think bills become laws and why then are they running for office?

Moreover, Rich Madaleno focused his energies so heavily on raising money for the marriage campaign that his own campaign account was sufficiently low to attract a challenge from deep pocketed Dana Beyer. (I should also mention that Ben Jealous’s running mate, Susie Turnbull, was very active in assisting the effort to win the 2012 referendum.)

None of the leaders of Equality Maryland, or any other incredibly kind and giving people who worked hard on the bill, have ever claimed to have been the key person in getting marriage equality accomplished. While I feel I did my bit, I also know that many were on the scene long before I arrived and also personally saw the self-effacing involvement of many good people.

One example I remember often is that of Del. Ben Barnes. He carried the bill for years in the House before it had a real chance of becoming law. Nevertheless, when asked to step aside for other sponsors in order to help advance the bill, he did so without any hesitation whatsoever. That’s someone who will never get much public credit but deserves it. The late Sen. Gwendolyn Britt similarly sponsored the bill in the Senate until she passed.

I do want to thank two straight African-American men for their incredibly helpful support: President Barack Obama and the late former NAACP President Julian Bond. President Obama’s timely evolution on the issue in advance of his own 2012 reelection bid created a critical and noticeable bump in the polls among African-American voters. When I asked Julian Bond if he’d be willing to appear in pro-marriage ads (he had the office next door to me at AU), he said yes immediately. I’ve also never seen anyone look so embarrassed when I thanked him in his office just before I got legally married.

Back to pride for a moment. If Ben Jealous wants to spout quotes on pride at me, he might think on another one before claiming credit for being the critical person in a long-term effort of someone else’s civil rights movement: “Pride goeth before a fall.”

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More on Ben Jealous’ Voting Record

Ben Jealous’s campaign blasted my posts about his voting record with its own blog post earlier today. If nothing else, my posts have helped clarify the voting records of the candidates, a topic Larry Hogan will be sure to bring up if the nominee is vulnerable.

Could I have done so in a better way? You bet. (For example, it was pointed out to me last night that I should have indicated that Krish Vignarajah was simply too young to vote in some elections on the chart.) Jealous’s post, however, is a combo platter of legitimate grievance, high dudgeon, and deception by omission.

Agreed Facts

Jealous says he has voted in Maryland exactly four times: the 2012 general election, the 2014 election, and the 2016 primary and general elections. This is exactly what I reported in my post on the Maryland voting records of all candidates.

As Jealous has now made clear, he did not vote in Maryland previously because he was living in D.C. and California. When he became NAACP President, he moved “back to D.C.” The NAACP headquarters are in Baltimore, though the organization also has a Washington bureau.

Jealous further claims that, contrary to my statement, that he has “long been” a Democrat but then says that he “chose to be formally unaffiliated during his time as president of the NAACP.” Fair enough, but this also means that was, in fact, not a registered Democrat from 2009 to 2013.

More interestingly, Jealous states “Since leaving the organization, in 2013, Jealous has voted consistently as a Democrat in Maryland, including participating in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary election.”

This neatly elides over and omits that he didn’t participate in the 2014 Democratic primary, the only gubernatorial primary for which he has been eligible. He left the NAACP in 2013, so his stated reason for being unaffiliated no longer held. Certainly, the 2014 Democratic primary was exciting with a gubernatorial race between Anthony Brown, Doug Gansler, and Heather Mizeur.

Though Jealous touts his record on supporting women and people of color, he chose not to vote in that primary. (Krish Vignarajah faces the same problem far more acutely. She routinely lambastes the lack of women and people of color in elected positions in Maryland but elected not to vote in Maryland in 2014 or the hotly contested Edwards-Van Hollen primary in 2016.)

Bottom line, Jealous has voted four times in Maryland since 2012. He has never voted in a gubernatorial primary, as he skipped the 2014 Democratic primary. According to Jealous, he was not a registered Democrat in 2012, so he was unable to vote in that primary.

High Dudgeon

Jealous spends much of the post, which appeared today, attacking claims I made two days ago but realized on my own were not right and corrected within hours as soon as I had that facepalm moment.

I took the unusual step of putting out a separate post highlighting the corrections, so that everyone who gets 7S in their mailbox would see it. Additionally, I tweeted and put up a post on the blog’s Facebook page with the correction. All state: “My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.” The original post is not only corrected but contains the same wording at the top highlighting the corrections.

I make mistakes and I try to take my lumps and to correct them when brought to my attention. It’s part of my effort to maintain trust with the people who read as well as my own standards. My time is limited since I have a full-time job and other responsibilities, so I mess up sometimes but I do my best. While I certainly have opinions, I regard facts as friends and try to adhere to them.

I can only speculate why Jealous chose to spend so much time expressing outrage about the corrected errors. It might be in order to distract from that his voting history and residency in Maryland in much shorter than others might think. He might also rather direct attention to me rather than his failure to vote in the 2014 Democratic primary.

Legitimate Grievances

Where Jealous has a good point is that I did not know about his California voting history, which occurred in the middle of his two periods voting in D.C. Why didn’t I know? I looked as his campaign bio page, which makes no mention of having lived in either D.C. or California.

Instead, it says “Ben grew up spending summers in West Baltimore and has lived in Maryland throughout his career as a civil rights leader and businessman.” However, his never voted in Maryland prior to 2012 and did vote elsewhere, which indicates that he has not lived in Maryland “throughout his career.”

I learned that Jealous had previously voted in D.C. Like Vignarajah in Maryland, he was never purged from the rolls during his time in California. I had no idea from his bio, which I looked at prior to putting up the post, that he had lived in California. So I wrongly stated that he had missed elections in D.C. when living in California.

Nevertheless, in retrospect, it would have been best to have taken the time to ask the Jealous campaign. Of course, Jealous could have done the same if he wanted the errors corrected. We both know how to contact each other and my corrections and apology for the errors indicate a willingness to fix others. Unlike me, he has a professional, paid campaign staff. Instead, his blog post blasts me two days after many of the errors were corrected.

Conclusion

I’m certainly not above criticism. When you put your opinions out there, you should expect some flak, especially when you make mistakes. At the end of the day, however, I’m not up for election. It’s up to voters to decide if Jealous’s voting history or residency matters. I imagine voters have a range of opinions on these topics – and they’re absolutely the ones who matter here.

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Gov Candidates Mix It Up on Amazon

I live tweeted @theseventhstate last night’s excellent Montgomery County Women’s Democratic Club Forum held at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Candidates for the gubernatorial nomination agreed on many issues. One where they clashed was the merit of state incentives to woo Amazon.

Candidates Opposed to Amazon Incentives

Businessman Jim Shea called Amazon incentives “a really bad idea” and attacked giving $8.5 billion to the richest man in the world along with recruiting business from other state more generally. Moderator Robert McCartney interjected to laughter, “Careful, he’s my boss.”

Krish Vignarajah was also vehemently against the incentives, and attacked Gov. Larry Hogan for moving on this while letting Baltimore kids freeze during the winter, a comparison she also made at the Takoma Park debate. “This is the insanity of our governor.” As in many answers, Vignarajah combined passion on the issue with a sharp argument.

Former NAACP President Ben Jealous also opposed Amazon incentives. Consistent with his approach on other issues, he staked out the most left-wing position. Jealous not only agreed with other candidates on the need for diversity provisions, he also wants to see labor agreements.

My take: One follow-up question left unasked of Shea, Vignarajah and Jealous is how one could require diversity, labor or other requirements without incentives. Alternatively, is the implicit choice just to let Amazon go elsewhere? If that is the case, would future Amazon employees be better off located in a place without these protections?

Candidates Supportive of Amazon Incentives

Pointing out that Discovery was about to leave two blocks away, Rich Madaleno called Amazon a “game changing investment.” At two-thirds the size of the state government, it would help diversify our economy away from dependence on the federal government. He explained that Amazon only gets $5.5 billion if they spend $140 billion in salaries in our area. Madaleno is proud the General Assembly passed legislation to make sure companies are held accountable on promised diversity and benefits.

County Executive Rushern Baker was candid that Prince George’s had tried to recruit Amazon, explaining that the idea was to build local businesses around it and gain revenue. At the same time, he criticized the Governor for ignoring building business except the FBI and Amazon. This point foreshadowed Alec Ross’ later contention that Larry Hogan would completely ignore the DC suburbs if reelected.

Alec Ross took a somewhat nuanced position. He said that he would’ve negotiated a different deal but hopes Amazon comes here. He cited his running mate’s business, well-regarded Denizens Brewery located nearby in Silver Spring, as an example of a great small business. Ross said we make it too hard for small business in Maryland, and need to think more about how to make Maryland the place businesses grow and prosper. His campaign tweeted an op-ed that Ross wrote on the topic that nicely gives a chance hear these ideas fleshed out.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he did not submit a bid for Baltimore County because he thought Baltimore City was the best location. Arguing that we need a nominee with a track record of experience, he wants to focus on job skill training to attract businesses and get people jobs.

My take: This is one issue that split the electeds who have had to directly grapple with this issue from first-time candidates (with Ross as somewhat of an exception). Montgomery’s economy sure could use a jump start and Amazon is an unusually big opportunity, so I tend to agree with trying to recruit Amazon. Though not perfect, Maryland’s process was also unusually transparent compared to other jurisdictions and got buy-in from the legislature.

Nevertheless, I understand why opponents don’t like it. Wooing business with money is often a mistake. In particular, football stadiums are a real money loser. I support Del. David Moon’s fine bill to prevent Maryland, Virginia and the District from competing this way.

Note: As I have mentioned repeatedly, I’m a supporter of Rich Madaleno. While it seemed worth mentioning here, I do my best to call them as I see them, and give an honest portrayal of the positions of all candidates here.

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Correction on Earlier Ben Jealous Post

4/26 UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Ben Jealous blasted me in a blog post today. Some are for the mistakes outlined below that I apologized for and corrected two days ago. Jealous now also explains that he lived in California when he wasn’t voting (but apparently wasn’t purged) in D.C. in 2006 and 2008. You can read my response here. I’ve left this post unchanged at this point so that you can better assess his claims and mine.

UPDATE: Some of the information in the original version of the previous post wasn’t right. I’ve corrected the table as well as the text, so you can see the difference.

The source of the error is that Ben Jealous did not miss the 2012 and 2014 elections in DC, as he was registered in Maryland, though the DC database records him as not having voted because he had not yet been purged because of the change of address. I discovered the error myself after rereading the post.

My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.

Several key facts, however, remain unchanged. Ben Jealous did not register as a Democrat prior to his move to Maryland. He did not vote in a high share of elections, including the previous gubernatorial primary and the historic 2008 presidential election.

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Ben Jealous’ Surprising Voter History

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (4/26): Ben Jealous blasted me in a blog post today. Some are for the mistakes outlined below that I apologized for and corrected two days ago. Jealous now also explains that he lived in California when he wasn’t voting (but apparently wasn’t purged) in D.C. in 2006 and 2008. You can read my response here. I’ve left this post unchanged at this point so that you can better assess his claims and mine.

UPDATE (4/24): Some of the information in the original version of this post wasn’t right. I’ve corrected the table above as well as the text below, so you can see the difference. (The source of the error is that I counted the elections before he was purged in DC as having been missed, when Jealous had registered in Maryland.) My apologies not just to Ben Jealous but to readers for the errors.

Yesterday, I looked at the voting records of all Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Ben Jealous has been registered to vote in Maryland only since 2012 and I speculated that either he had been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Turns out that Jealous was registered in DC from 2000 through 2010 (he wasn’t purged from the DC rolls until after the 2014 elections) – far longer than he has been registered in Maryland.

Recent Democrat

Jealous became a Democrat only recently. He was registered in DC as an unaffiliated voter:

This choice stands out because, as in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, the closed Democratic primary is the key election in most cases. His decision to register as an independent means that, for example, he could not vote in the 2008 presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Jealous also did not have the opportunity to weigh in on heated contests for mayor and other local offices.

Lackadaisical Voter

For someone who is asking people to vote for him, Jealous missed a lot of elections. When he was registered in DC, Jealous skipped 6 of 14 elections in which he was eligible to vote. (Primaries in which the DC Board of Elections and Ethics says he was ineligible are excluded. There must have been nonpartisan offices or questions on the primary elections listed here.)

As reported yesterday, he also missed two of the six elections while registered in Maryland, so he has voted in 12 of 20 elections since 2000.

Missed Historic Votes

Among the 43% 56% of DC elections that Jealous skipped were some important contests. He didn’t vote in the historic election of Barack Obama as our first African-American president, probably unusual in a former NAACP President! He also did not vote in 2012, when he was reelected even more handily. (Folks, this is incorrect, he voted in that election in Maryland).

Jealous also missed out on the vote on to legalize marijuana in 2014.

At the local level, the 2013 special election to fill a Council vacancy, the DC equivalent of our state legislature, was an exciting contest and far from a foregone conclusion. (Also wrong, he voted in Maryland that year, as my chart from yesterday shows.)

Finally, as mentioned yesterday, he has never voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary. The first Democratic primary vote he casts for governor will be for himself.

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Who Voted – and who Didn’t – in Maryland?

The participation of the seven Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Maryland elections varies widely. The table at the top of the post reveals not just whether but also how each voted since 1994, a period that includes 12 primary and general elections apiece with the number also evenly split between presidential and gubernatorial election years.

Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno

The three officials who currently hold elective office – Rushern Baker, Kevin Kamenetz and Rich Madaleno – have voted in every one of the 24 elections.

Krish Vignarajah

Despite registering to vote in Maryland in 2006, Krish Vignarajah has voted just once in Maryland. In 2016, she voted in the general after skipping the primary. She registered to vote in D.C. in 2010 and participated in four elections there from 2010 through 2014.

In order to remain eligible to run for governor, Vignarajah claims incredibly that she remained a legally registered voter in Maryland. Even as she cast ballots elsewhere and claimed a D.C. address on her voter registration application, she was never purged from the rolls in Maryland.

This presents a series of real problems for Vignarajah. To put it bluntly, if she really lived in Maryland all the time and her D.C. apartment was just a “crash pad” as she now says, why did she fraudulently claim that she lived in D.C. on her 2010 voter application? Alternatively, if she was honest on her application, how can she claim that she has always maintained her Maryland residency?

Additionally, if she was always a Maryland resident, why didn’t she just vote here? She says voting in D.C. was just a matter of convenience because she was so busy at her job working for Michelle Obama. But many other busy people manage to apply for absentee ballots and they’re not all Marshall Scholars who made law review at Yale. Why couldn’t she do the same? It doesn’t exactly exude commitment to the State.

Moreover, how can one be legally registered to vote in two places at the same time? Just because she wasn’t purged from the rolls, as she should have been after she registered in D.C., doesn’t mean that she remained someone who could legally cast a ballot here.

I’ve had personal experience with this issue. When I moved back to Maryland twenty years ago after four years teaching in South Carolina, I discovered I was still on the rolls. I had registered and voted in South Carolina but, until I moved back to Maryland, I didn’t have illusions that I could vote here or was still a resident despite frequent visits.

Vignarajah could advance her residency claim if she would release her tax returns. She already refused to answer where she filed when Tom Sherwood asked on WAMU. As he pointed out, that really answers it anyway. One imagines that Vignarajah would have said that she had filed in Maryland if she had done so.

We’ll get a chance to know for sure when Vignarajah releases her tax returns. Her campaign told the Baltimore Sun that she’d release her returns “if others do.” Jealous, Ross, Shea have said they will, and Madaleno has already done so,. Hopefully, we will know soon if she filed in the District or Maryland or both, assuming that this is not a Trump promise, which is an oxymoron.

Ben Jealous

Unlike Vignarah, Ben Jealous is unquestionably eligible to run. However, he has only voted four times in Maryland since 1994, which surprised me as his online bio certainly gives the appearance that he spent most of his life in Maryland.

His voter participation record suggests otherwise. Jealous first registered to vote in Maryland in 2012. Though he has participated in all general elections, he skipped both the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries. When Jealous casts his ballot in 2018, presumably for himself, it will be the first time that he has ever voted in a Maryland gubernatorial primary – something he has in common with Vignarajah!

Either Jealous has been voting elsewhere or not at all.

Jim Shea and Alec Ross

Jim Shea voted in all general elections but missed 5 of the 12 primaries, with four of the five that he missed occurring in presidential election years. None of these four primaries had a hotly contested presidential or senatorial primary.

Alec Ross did not vote in 7 of the 24 elections. Ross took a pass on his first opportunity to vote in 1994, but he would have just moved to Baltimore in the summer before the primary. However, he also missed both the primary and general in his second statewide elections. More recently, Ross skipped the 2010 and 2012 primaries.

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Gubernatorial Debate Moments

I live tweeted last night’s debate in Takoma Park. This post highlights moments that stood out in my mind. During the fast-paced debate, I did my best to capture what candidates actually said, either as quote or a paraphrase, along with provide analysis along with many typos. Rushern Baker skipped the debate.

Alec Ross Goes Extreme on Immigration

A theme for Alec Ross was his effort to stand out as a different kind of candidate, unafraid to criticize Democrats for being insufficiently progressive. He pejoratively stereotyped ICE workers and called for sending out state troopers to fight them if needed to that end:

Ben Jealous Over Credit Claims?

Ben Jealous and I had an exchange on Twitter during the debate regarding his taking credit for the MD DREAM Act’s passage that paralleled Adam Pagnucco’s past critique:

Jealous’s followers certainly agreed with him on Twitter.

Jealous on Corruption and the NRA

Jealous also stood out for his attack on corruption and call for Baltimore Democrat Sen. Nat Oaks to resign:

He also attacked taking NRA money–very popular based on the retweets:

The problem with Jealous’s severe attacks on any Democrat who takes money from the NRA is that he co-chaired Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The current anti-gun moment is not ideal for Sanders, who originally won election to Congress with heavy NRA support. While Sanders is no longer the pal of the NRA, he has a past of opposing the Brady Bill and many other pro-gun votes. Awkward.

Said and Unsaid by Krish Vignarajah

Krish Vignarajah is razor sharp and may have been the smartest person on the stage. She had one of the best moments of the debate with her linkage of Hogan’s Amazon package and the lack of funds to heat Baltimore schools.


Sometimes, however, what she left unsaid seemed as loud as the points she was making:
Of course, the doofus who wrote the tweet should have said primary instead of general election. However, District 18 Delegate Candidate Mila Johns was even sharper:

Vignaranjah still has not filed.

Rich Madaleno Relentless on Republicans

Unsurprisingly, all of the candidates weren’t keen on Hogan or Trump. Rich Madaleno’s remarks still stood out.

Along with Kevin Kamenetz, Madaleno made the tough sell in anti-establishment times that we need someone with experience. He contended that he and his running mate, Luwanda Jenkins, had made change and had the experience to do so as governor:

Kevin Kamenetz and Jim Shea

These two guys didn’t have moments. By all rights, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz should be a top contender. He is county executive of a swing county, clearly more knowledgeable than many of his rivals on a lot of issues due to having grappled with them in office, and does his best to link them to personal stories from his own life or time as county exec.

Yet, Kamenetz is simply not a natural debater and seems a bit awkward on the stage despite clearly having worked on honing his pitch. He was at his best when challenged due to his sureness and utter willingness to fight back. But it just didn’t feel like his moment as he didn’t connect with his audience.

Jim Shea seems earnest, well-meaning, smart and steeped in the community. He has been involved in a litany of efforts to improve Baltimore and Maryland for years. He was seated next to Vignarajah and the contrast could not have been greater. He’s an an unexciting and unmemorable speaker who had all of the specific, deep knowledge of Maryland she lacked. They should consider teaming up.

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