TriceEdneyWire.com) - Former NAACP President Benjamin Todd
Jealous, also former Black press executive, is now launching a political
Perhaps recently best known as a surrogate for Democratic
presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Jealous confirmed this week that he
is running for governor of Maryland. He cited his long record of civil rights
and the diversity of the state of Maryland as being matched to his favor.
"When I was president of the NAACP I learned just how
quickly my neighbors here were prepared to move forward on civil rights. In one
year, we abolished the death penalty, we passed marriage equality, we passed
the Dream Act. I'm running for governor because I believe we're prepared to
move just as quickly in moving forward on our education, on employment, on the
environment while continuing to protect civil rights," Jealous said this
week in an interview with the Trice Edney News Wire. "I'm running for governor
because I believe we can do much better by our kids right now."
Jealous is entering a crowded field of seven other
candidates for the Democratic primary to be held June 26, 2018. He believes
disaffection for the scandal-laden Trump administration may cause voters to
lean back toward Democratic leadership after electing Republican Gov. Larry
Hogan in November 2014. Hogan is eligible to run for re-election in the state
where the Democratic base is actually two to one.
"Larry Hogan is governor of Maryland because in 2014,
we had a high tide of Republican turnout and an ebb tide of Democratic
turnout," Jealous said. He pointed out that Hogan won by 60,000 votes
after 125,000 Democrats who had voted in 2010 didn't show up to vote in 2014.
"In this era of President Trump, they can only remember
having a president that is competent to serve. And now they see the impact of
having a president that is quite the opposite," Jealous said. "So
long as we turn out Democratic voters who are used to voting in gubernatorial
elections, there's almost no way that he can win."
The election will be held Nov. 6, 2018. But first Jealous
must distinguish himself among the crowded Democratic field. In that regard, he
may just have a not-so-secret weapon. If he can win an endorsement from Sen.
Bernie Sanders, it may bolster his chances significantly.
"Let's just see," was Jealous' only response when
asked whether he expects to receive Sanders' endorsement.
Sanders won 36 percent of the vote in Maryland's Democratic
presidential primary. If Jealous can win a majority of those voters; plus a
significant portion of Maryland's 45 percent Black vote, he is a strong
contender to win the Democratic nomination.
But the key will be to excite the Democratic base to the
polls. Jealous believes he has the record to do just that. Maryland has a 45
percent White constituency and 10 percent that encompasses other races. Jealous
believes his background and civil rights record could attract a following
similar to the "Rainbow Coalition" that was amassed during the Jesse
Jackson presidential campaign, for which Jealous also worked in 1988.
Jealous was born in Pacific Grove, Calif. But his parents, a
mixed-race couple, had met in Baltimore where his mother grew up. His father,
Fred Jealous, who was White, helped integrate lunch counters in the South. His
mother, Ann Jealous, worked with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
in the 1960s. As a teenager, Jealous became steeped in civil and voting rights
work and spent summers in Baltimore with his maternal grandparents.
"The combination of an activist rooted in the tradition
of the NAACP and the civil rights movement and an activist rooted in the Bernie
camp, gives us a broad base that looks like Maryland similar to what you saw of
Doug Wilder in Virginia after the Jesse Jackson campaign," Jealous said.
Jealous' career has been woven with civil rights and
politics. Between 2000-2004 he served as executive director of the National
Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). Earlier in his career, he'd worked as
an editor for the historic Jackson Advocate newspaper in Mississippi.
After NNPA, he became founding director of Amnesty
International's U. S. Human Rights Program. In 2008, he became the historically
youngest NAACP president at the age of 35, an office he held until 2012. He
later became a venture capitalist with the Oakland, Calif.-based Kapor Center
for Social Impact. He also played integral rolls in the presidential races of
President Barack Obama.
"I'm blessed to have lived my life as a progressive in
the Black community who is committed to fighting for a better life for everyone
in our community and ultimately for everyone in every community...It's that
life, that path that starts with Jesse Jackson '88 and goes all the way through
Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign," he recounts. "It's that life that
started with my parents and my grandparents rooted in the NAACP, raised in the
NAACP; ultimately leads into the labor movement and the environmentalist
movement and the LGBT movement and the women's rights movement. That's me,
that's where I'm rooted and where this campaign is rooted."
If he wins, Jealous would become the nation's fourth Black
governor in modern history. The others were Virginia's Gov. L. Douglas Wilder,
elected in 1989; Massachusetts' Gov. Deval Patrick, elected in 2006 and
re-elected in 2010; and New York's Gov. David Paterson who served two years
after the resignation of Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2008.
Jealous, 44, has two young children to whom he often refers
when expressing concerns about the future of Maryland. Reflecting on the
economic deprivation that became a national spotlight during the Freddie Gray
case, he accuses Hogan of having ignored Baltimore during his tenure.
"This is a governor who has shifted millions of dollars
away from public education and into voucher programs and who has toured the
state with [Trump-appointed Education Secretary] Betsy Devos and has embraced
Attorney General Sessions' foolishness of trying to revive the failed war on
drugs by also investing millions of dollars in building up law enforcement to
go after heroin addicts as law breakers rather than as people who need to be
sent to rehabilitation," he says. "The only way to create a better
future for Baltimore and its residents is to have a governor who is always for
all of its residents; including Baltimore. Right now it feels too often that we
have a governor who is always for all of Maryland except for Baltimore...You
simply cannot starve a city that's supposed to be the economic epicenter of the
state and have the state prosper."
Ultimately, the voters of Maryland must be inspired enough
to believe the election even matters.
"It's going to take us deciding that our children's
future, that our family's economic future is important enough for us to turn
out," Jealous says. "And so, at the end of the day, we will do what
it takes to turn out voters. Donald Trump will make that easier and Larry Hogan
will make that easier still."