By Ovetta Wiggins, Arelis R. Hernández and Robert McCartney,
The Associated Press,
Ben Jealous, a former NAACP president embraced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, decisively defeated Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III for the Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nomination Tuesday in a major victory for the party’s progressive wing.
In a victory speech at an African-American museum in Baltimore, Jealous, 45, lashed out at Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, whom he called a “gimmick governor,” and said he is not daunted by the incumbent’s record-high approval ratings.
“We will beat Larry Hogan the same way we won the primary,” Jealous said in an interview Wednesday morning. “…Talking to everyone, in every corner of this state, about kitchen-table issues.”
Jealous received strong backing and outside money from wealthy liberals, unions and progressive groups. He offered bold proposals – including state-based universal health care and debt-free college – that he believes will energize voters, many of whom seemed inclined Tuesday to cast ballots for Hogan in the fall.
Hogan, who ran unopposed in the GOP primary, has governed as a moderate and repeatedly distanced himself from President Trump, who is widely disliked in Maryland. He appeared before reporters Wednesday to say he welcomed the chance to face Jealous in the general election.
“If you like [former Democratic Governor] Martin O’Malley, you’re gonna love this guy,” Hogan said. “He’s talking about tens of billions of dollars in tax increases that will cost us hundreds of thousands of jobs and devastate the great economy that we’ve made so much progress on.”
Jealous won strong pluralities in the Baltimore area and did well enough in the populous Washington suburbs to win by a large margin over Baker and the others.
Baker, a longtime politician, had the endorsement of almost all of the state’s top Democratic elected officials in the primary race. But he raised less money than Jealous, who was backed by teachers unions and other labor groups who supported Baker in his previous campaigns.