Ex-NAACP Chief Ben Jealous Announces Candidacy for Maryland Governor

Ben Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, announced his candidacy for Maryland governor Wednesday outside a cousin’s West Baltimore flower shop. Jealous is the third Democrat to formally announce his candidacy in the June 26, 2018, primary, joining high-tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and state Sen. Richard Madeleno. Several other Democrats are either expected to join the race soon or are weighing a run.

The Baltimore Sun reports,

Jealous, 44, will seek the Democratic nomination in his first bid for political office. He joins a growing field of potential challengers to Gov. Larry Hogan, who is expected to attempt to become the state’s first two-term Republican governor since the 1950s.

In an interview Tuesday with The Baltimore Sun, Jealous took aim at Hogan’s record on education, the economy and the environment. And he faulted Hogan for failing to take on the Trump administration, comparing the incumbent to the Cowardly Lion in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“He may have strength, but he lacks courage,” Jealous said. Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, declined to comment.

Jealous brings to the campaign a personal story that could differentiate him from the field. He is seeking to become governor of a state where his parents could not legally marry at the time they met in Harlem Park because his father was white and his mother African-American.

Jealous, who lives in Pasadena, was elected president of the Baltimore-based NAACP in 2008 at age 35, becoming the youngest person to head the civil rights organization. He led the group until 2013, the year after he spearheaded the NAACP’s successful campaign to abolish Maryland’s death penalty. During that year’s debate, he was a regular visitor to Annapolis as he lobbied lawmakers to pass Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley’s repeal bill.

When he was NAACP president, Jealous said, he saw how quickly the state can more forward. He pointed to some of the initiatives of the O’Malley administration — including the end of capital punishment, legalizing same-sex marriage and allowing students who are in the country illegally to pay in-state tuition rates at public universities.

Jealous in 2014 joined Kapor Capital, which funds tech startups that work on social justice issues. He is divorced and has two children who live with him part time.

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