Tag Archives: Ben Jealous

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.


Not Exactly the Ideal Rollout for Turnbull

Gubernatorial Candidate Ben Jealous Introduces Susan Turnbull as his Running Mate for Lieutenant Governor

Sometimes, it’s worth doing a third take.

Apparently, a car accident outside interrupted Ben Jealous’s effort to do his introduction of Susie Turnbull as his running mate for Lieutenant Governor. After investigating, they came back and did this second take.

It contains some real clunkers. Ben Jealous speaks of removing Gov. Larry Hogan “from the White House.” This Freudian slip only reinforces the perception that Jealous is a lot more knowledgeable and comfortable speaking about national issues and his real interests lie outside the State.

Incredibly, Turnbull then makes the same gaffe by referring to when she “moved to Washington” even though she quickly realizes her mistake and attempts to correct mid-course. She ends up saying:

For the last 40 years, I’ve been engaged in politics. Since I moved to Wash <pause> to Washington and Maryland, especially to Maryland, in the last . . . years ago, what I have done is build coalitions and work in my community.

Leading with her political chops without also highlighting any specific accomplishments doesn’t help sell the message. The takeaway for many may not be their message of “change” and “doing big things” but that Jealous has chosen yet another longtime well-off political insider, much of whose work in her community consists of serving in elite party positions.

Many in the DC area think of themselves as Washingtonians and identify heavily with the metro area. Saying you’re from more well-known Washington rather than Bethesda is natural for Turnbull. Yet Washington insider is not normally the image cultivated by a Sanders candidate. Describing herself as being from “Washington” will surely play poorly elsewhere in the State.

The jiggling camera puts a Maryland spin on it by reminding people of The Wire. I suppose the low production values can be sold as a form of authenticity but I would’ve thought a campaign intending to do a roll out would’ve been prepared to film it.

Jealous has gained a running mate who will reassure the political establishment and may help him raise money – two excellent reasons for Turnbull’s selection. Many people think highly of her and we’ll have future opportunities to hear from them. But this video utterly fails to sell why the broader public should think that she is a great choice for Lieutenant Governor.


Susan Turnbull is Running for Office. Is it Lt. Gov. with Ben Jealous?

Former national DNC member and Maryland Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull established a state-level campaign committee on November 22.  Her committee filing does not list the office for which she is running.  Her campaign chair is former Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee Chair Karen Britto and her treasurer is federal lobbyist Matthew R. Schneider.

It may not be a coincidence that gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous just sent out a blast email stating that he will announce his pick for Lieutenant Governor tomorrow. Indeed, private reports indicate that Turnbull has agreed to be Jealous’s running mate.

We have asked Turnbull about the office for which she is running.  When (if?) she replies, we will update this post.

If nominated, Jealous-Turnbull would be the first Democratic ticket with no white male on it. I imagine Jealous is hoping that Turnbull will help in Montgomery County, Turnbull’s home. She also has a lot of connections as a former state party chair that could prove useful in raising money and building support around the state.

At the same time, Turnbull’s status as a party insider cuts against Jealous’s effort to campaign as an outside challenger to the establishment. In that sense, opponents can easily cast Turnbull as the ultimate insider despite her lack of experience in public office.


The Jealous Campaign Responds

Today, I am pleased to present a response to yesterday’s post by Adam Pagnucco from Travis Tazelaar, the campaign manager for Ben Jealous’ Campaign for Governor and the former Executive Director of the Maryland Democratic Party.

I was a little disappointed today to read Adam Pagnucco’s Post on the Seventh State, “Is Jealous Claiming Credit for the Achievements of Others?” The post claims that Ben Jealous was not a “key player” in passing “the DREAM Act, marriage equality, death penalty repeal, voting reform and gun safety.” Adam’s post gives credit where credit is most certainly due: to the long list of legislators and other elected officials who fought, and passed legislation. Adam’s characterization that Ben Jealous is either taking credit for the achievement of others, or that he didn’t play a big enough role worth talking about, is false and misleading to Seventh State’s readers and to the progressive community.

Many people played a role in all the progressive victories outlined in the post, including Ben Jealous. I’d point special attention to former Governor Martin O’Malley, whose role in all these victories is unequivocal, who said of Ben Jealous in the Baltimore Sun:

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… 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.

The Sun has also written:

The effort to end capital punishment in America epitomizes Mr. Jealous’ ability to combine on-the-ground organizing with strategic thinking. A year ago, the effort to ban the death penalty in Maryland appeared out of steam. Gov. Martin O’Malley‘s passionate advocacy on the issue had failed to sway the state Senate, and all indications were that Mr. O’Malley would not put the issue on his agenda again. Then he met with Mr. Jealous, who assured the governor he could provide vote counts showing majority support for a repeal in both chambers of the legislature. He did, and a month later, Mr. O’Malley stood by Mr. Jealous’ side to announce he would make another all-out push for a repeal. This time, he would succeed.

As the campaign manager for the DREAM Act referendum in 2012, I can express to you unequivocally Ben Jealous’ assistance in winning that campaign too. Were many others involved? Absolutely. Would he claim sole credit? Never. Nor has he tried to do so.

I could walk through the other victories too. I could go point, counterpoint as to what he did, when he did it, and who else was involved. I could pull more quotes from people on the ground thanking Ben Jealous for bringing the NAACP into the Maryland fights when he was President and CEO. But our energy right now shouldn’t be pointed inward, progressives on progressives, in the manner in which Adam is attempting. What Ben Jealous’ message is about, and is clearly written in the email referenced in Adam’s post, is about Maryland coming together. Adam is correct when he says the operative word here is “we.” WE should be coming together as progressives to do big things in this state again, we should be focused on what we can do for the next generation, not tearing down fellow progressives with misleading arguments about the past, especially when he’s clearly going to support another potential candidate.

Adam asks at the end of the post: “Here’s a question for the veterans of all these progressive wins: how do you feel about that?” As a veteran involved in many of these fights myself, especially once they reach the ballot, I can tell you that I’ve always been grateful to have Ben Jealous right there on the front lines with so many of us, and it’s one reason I’m enthusiastically running his campaign now. I would challenge Adam to discard divisive rhetoric and replace it with words affirming our progressive conviction for a brighter future in Maryland, especially when we all work together.


Is Jealous Claiming Credit for the Achievements of Others?

By Adam Pagnucco.

Former NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous is running for Governor on a progressive message.  That’s a good thing for both the Democratic Party and the state.  But part of his message appears to be a claim that he was a big player in progressive achievements that were actually accomplished by others.  That’s a problem.

In a blast email dated May 31 and titled “Unlocking the American Dream,” Jealous recites his history as a community organizer, his ties to the City of Baltimore and his parents’ efforts to desegregate the city’s schools and downtown business district.  Jealous has a compelling story that deserves respect and consideration, especially by progressives.

After discussing his parents’ civil rights activism, he wrote this.

It was that tradition of fighting for a better life for your neighbors and yourself that motivated this campaign.

In 2012, Maryland had a bounty of civil rights ambitions; we were going to pass the DREAM Act, abolish the death penalty, pass marriage equality, expand voting rights and pass sensible gun safety reform. It was quite the undertaking, but that didn’t stop Maryland.

We went for it, and we won all of them. Because we know our individual movements are stronger together.

That’s the spirit this state needs. A spirit to make our existing movements stronger by combining efforts, to defend our communities, our healthcare, our environment, our working families, students, and seniors.

The operative pronoun here is “we.”  Readers of this email might think that Jealous was a key player in passing the DREAM Act, marriage equality, death penalty repeal, voting reform and gun safety.  But he wasn’t.  Jealous was head of the national NAACP at the time.  He was not a leader in state politics.  In fact, other than residency and family history, Jealous has few ties to politics and government in Maryland.

Many, many people worked together to accomplish the progressive victories listed in this email.  Most of these wins took years to get done.  Elected leaders who worked hard on these issues include former Senator and now Congressman Jamie Raskin (marriage equality and the death penalty), former Senator and now Attorney General Brian Frosh (guns), Senators Victor Ramirez and Paul Pinsky (the DREAM Act), Senator Joan Carter Conway (voting rights), Delegate Kathleen Dumais (guns and the death penalty), Delegate Luke Clippinger (marriage equality and guns), Delegates Maggie McIntosh, Anne Kaiser, Kumar Barve and former Delegate Keiffer Mitchell (marriage equality), Delegate Sheila Hixson (the DREAM Act and voting rights), former Senator Lisa Gladden and Delegate Sandy Rosenberg (the death penalty) and former Governor Martin O’Malley, Speaker Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller (all of the above).  Lots of others in elected office and in progressive advocacy groups played critical roles.  One key leader on many of these issues, Senator Rich Madaleno (D-18), is planning on running for Governor.  (Disclosure: if Madaleno declares, your author will support him.)  None of these people did it alone.  Politics is a team sport, as everyone who did the nuts-and-bolts work on all of these issues knows.

Jealous could have written, “Progressives in Maryland passed the DREAM ACT, marriage equality and gun safety.  They did the right thing and I applaud them.  Our campaign is about returning our state to a progressive path.  Join us.”  But he didn’t.

Here’s a question for the veterans of all these progressive wins: how do you feel about that?