Meet the Candidates: Previewing Maryland’s 2018 gubernatorial election

By Jason Fontelieu

In such a divided political climate, each election is proving to be significant, whether it be at the local, state or national level. In 2014, Republican Larry Hogan was elected governor of Maryland, a traditionally Democratic state. As the 2018 gubernatorial race draws nearer, the early focus seems to be on the Democrats running for the nomination next to Hogan’s name on the ballot. Here is a look at the Democratic candidates for the 2018 race, according to the Baltimore Sun:

  • Krishanti Vignarajah
    • Self-proclaimed as “Donald Trump’s worst nightmare” during a speech at the UMD Democrats meeting on Sept. 19, Vignarajah’s running is unique in that she is the only female candidate running so far. With experience from being policy director to former First Lady Michelle Obama, Vignarajah has big goals in mind if she were elected, such as providing universal pre-K, increasing education spending by $2.9 billion and creating statewide access to high-speed Internet, according to the Baltimore Sun. Vignarajah would be Maryland’s first female governor.
  • Kevin Kamenetz
    • As County Executive of Baltimore County since 2010, Kamenetz boasts a solid reputation of the county’s increased graduation rate, creating 28,000 local jobs and reducing the combustion of electricity by the government, according to his campaign website. He was named “Most Distinguished Leader for Minority Businesses” in 2016 by the Maryland Washington Minority Contractors Association. He has opposed actions of the federal government such as the Senate’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Election Integrity Committee’s request for personal voter data.
  • Rushern Baker
    • Baker has made several reforms in regards to making pay-to-play politics illegal and revamping the police department as Prince George’s County Executive, according to his campaign website. In addition, under his leadership, crime in the county has reduced by 55%, more programs for language immersion are available in schools and economic development has increased by $9 billion. Some of his key issues include education reform, accessible health care options and environmental protection.
  • Ben Jealous
    • A lifelong advocate for civil rights, Jealous has a long list of accomplishments, including becoming the youngest ever President and CEO of the NAACP and being named the 2013 Marylander of the Year for his work in advocating the abolishment of the death penalty. He is a graduate of Columbia and Oxford University. He currently is an investor at Kapor Capital, a firm that invests in other firms that advocate social change. His policy goals as governor include creating a more just criminal justice system, creating more economic opportunity for the working class and prioritizing environmental conservation through expanded use of renewable energy. Jealous is also keen on opposing much of the agenda of President Trump. “The antidote to hopelessness and fear is to become a part of a movement that is larger than you,” Jealous said.
  • Richard Madaleno
    • State Senator Madaleno cites his reason for running for governor as a reaction to Trump’s 2016 presidential win. “I became concerned that we would wind up turning back the clock on many of the things that we have achieved over the last decade in Maryland,” Madaleno said. In 2012, Madaleno was instrumental in Maryland’s passage of marriage equality, making it the first state to legalize it by ballot. His main issues focus on protecting reproductive rights, ensuring a system of high-quality public education and improvements in transportation.
  • Alec Ross
    • Ross began his career as a teacher in Baltimore City, according to his campaign website. After seeing the inequitable conditions in schools for low-income families, he created programs to offer opportunities to further his students’ education and went on to start the non-profit organization One Economy, which brought high-speed internet to low-income communities. He has worked in the State Department under Secretary Hillary Clinton. He currently is Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins University and lives in Baltimore City.
  • Jim Shea
    • After a brief stint as Maryland’s Assistant Attorney General, Shea was a lawyer at Venable LLP before becoming the managing partner and chairman for the firm from 1994 to 2016, according to his campaign website. He is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers. Shea believes Governor Hogan is “letting President Trump’s policies harm the progress our state has made” and wants to protect Marylanders from the Trump administration. His goals as governor would be to improve education, increase job opportunities, ensuring a cleaner environment and securing and protecting the rights of minorities.

Featured image by Gage Skidmore, via Flickr.


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