Ben Jealous—Pursuing the Promise of Maryland

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Rallying a friendly WDC crowd at La Ferme restaurant in Chevy Chase on October 1, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous and running mate Susie Turnbull stressed that it’s time for a new governor in Maryland. Presenting a stark contrast between life under Republican Governor Larry Hogan and the vision they offer the state, Jealous and Turnbull outlined their plans for a Maryland worthy of its promise.

Hogan’s failures and evasive stances on key issues, they explained, far outweigh the successes he claims. On a wide range of key issues, they believe he has failed the citizens of Maryland:

Education: Maryland’s public schools’ rating sank from first to sixth.

Job Growth: Maryland had the lowest job growth in the region. If Maryland jobs had grown at the same rate as Virginia’s, said Jealous, Maryland would have had 40,000 more jobs; and Maryland families, $8,000 more in income.

Public Safety: Violent crime has increased 44 percent in Baltimore and 34 percent outside of Baltimore.

Healthcare: Insurance premiums and prescription drug costs have skyrocketed, bankrupting families and hurting small businesses.

In addition, said Turnbull, Hogan has avoided or “followed the polls” on issues Marylanders care about. Once supportive of fracking in western Maryland, for example, Hogan decided (in the face of stiff opposition) to support a bill to ban the practice. He played both sides of the street on Trump’s immigration policies, said Turnbull, once claiming credit for bringing back to Maryland a helicopter he had sent to help police the U.S. southern border.

Jealous and Turnbull offered a new vision for Maryland:

Education: End the “tyranny of zip codes” by ensuring that every Maryland child gets a first-rate education. Jealous proposes a 29 percent increase in teacher salaries, universal pre-kindergarten, and widespread vocational education throughout the state.

Economic Prosperity: Jealous’s plans include raising the minimum wage to $15, creating a governor’s Office of Technology Transfer to foster robust connections between industry stakeholders and promote innovation, tackle chronic unemployment, and revive rural economies by helping farmers compete in the 21st century marketplace. He would focus on building small businesses and entrepreneurships to move the state economy forward, especially by the use of green energy.

Public Safety: Proposals include implementing smart-on-crime policies that ensure safety and prosperity while creating a just system for all, especially by making sure that law enforcement focuses on violent crime rather than low-level drug offenses. He would crack down on police misconduct that results in death or injury to unarmed civilians (and expensive lawsuits against the state).

Healthcare: Jealous seeks to implement a Medicare-for-All system, stop rising premiums to prevent medical bankruptcies, negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices, and ensure coverage for the more than 300,000 currently uninsured Marylanders.

The Jealous/Turnbull vision has deep roots and a long, inspiring Maryland history. Jealous celebrated his legendary grandmother, Mamie Todd (now 101), the granddaughter of slaves and a retired Maryland social worker, who taught him (and, famously, Senator Barbara Mikulski) all she knew about justice and decency. Each generation, she used to say, “conveys its status to the next generation.” And when parents fear (as they do now) that their children will be worse off than they are, it’s time for a dramatic change.

Jealous praised the power of women and their contributions to society. Jealous’s first decision as a candidate, said Turnbull, was to choose her (a Democratic Party leader and longtime WDC member) as his running mate. “Susie co-founded Emerge Maryland (a program that prepares women to run for office ) on her front porch and helped launch the wave of women now running for office,” Jealous proudly declared, and “she has never stopped” building the party and the Democratic agenda in Maryland.

“We are Democrats,” said Jealous. We stand up for what the people want. And what they want, Barbara Jordan once said, “is for us to fulfill the promise of America.” We are working furiously to fulfill the “promise of Maryland… the freedom to grow old without fearing ending up in an economic nightmare.”

Winning won’t be easy, Jealous and Turnbull admitted, asking everyone to donate, canvass, make phone calls, post yard signs, and help debunk the myths that misrepresent their vision and the current governor’s supposed successes. “Only by getting a million people to vote for us can we win, and we need your help.”

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