Barack Obama endorses Ben Jealous in Maryland governor’s race

October 1, 2018

Former President Barack Obama on Monday endorsed Democrat Ben Jealous in the Maryland governor’s race, calling the former NAACP head an accomplished civil rights leader and an “advocate for working people.”

“He has the vision, experience, and courage to move families forward, which is why I ask all Marylanders to stand with me in supporting his election as Maryland’s next governor,” Mr. Obama said in a statement released by the Jealous campaign.

Mr. Obama said Mr. Jealous was a leader in the state in pushing for college tuition benefits for certain illegal immigrants, legalizing gay marriage, expanding voting rights and abolishing the death penalty.

Mr. Jealous was one of dozens of Democratic candidates across the country Mr. Obama endorsed on Monday as part of a “second wave” of midterm endorsements for the former president.

The Maryland gubernatorial candidate said he was “honored” by the endorsement.

“Across the country, progressive candidates are seeking to build on the successes of his administration and continue to deliver real solutions for working people,” he said.

In response to Mr. Obama’s endorsements Monday, the Republican National Committee pointed out the former president’s poor track record in helping lift up Democratic candidates after he was first elected in 2008.

“President Obama oversaw [the] slowest economic recovery in modern history and it cost Democrats more than 1,000 seats,” said RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens. “By tying these candidates to his failed economic policies, he’s helping ensure they suffer the same fate.”

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. have also endorsed Mr. Jealous, as have national liberal figures like Sens. Bernard Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Cory Booker.

Mr. Jealous has trailed incumbent Republican Gov. Larry Hogan by double digits in recent polls and has lagged far behind Mr. Hogan in fundraising, even as Democrats have a 2-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans in the historically blue state.

Since his 2014 upset win, Mr. Hogan has tried to tack toward the center on major issues and put an emphasis on jobs and the economy, as well as rolling back some of the taxes and fees imposed during the administration of his predecessor, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.

But Mr. Jealous is banking that his expressly liberal policy proposals such as Medicare-for-all and marijuana legalization, coupled with voter animus toward President Trump, will ultimately energize enough Democrats who might have stayed home four years ago to push him across the finish line.

Maryland also hasn’t re-elected a Republican governor since the 1950s, meaning Mr. Hogan will have to buck history to win a second term in office.

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