Look Out, Larry! Ben Jealous Has Something to Say

Lexington Park, MD—The 2018 Maryland gubernatorial election takes place November 6, 2018. With just over a year to go, the Old Line State will soon find out if Governor Larry Hogan is getting another term, or if someone new will be sitting in the governor’s chair. There are several candidates already declared who are running against Hogan on the Democratic side, but one candidate is already making news headlines. That candidate’s name is Ben Jealous.

Ben Jealous is the former president and chief executive officer of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), titles that he held for five years from 2008-2013. Jealous is the youngest person to ever hold these positions, being only 35 years old at the time. During his tenure, Jealous helped register almost a million young voters, stabilized the NAACP financially, established a stronger online presence, and truly turned the entire organization around. The Baltimore Sun named him Marylander of the Year in 2013 for his efforts in repairing and building up the NAACP. Jealous received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Columbia University and a Master of Science in Comparative Social Research from University of Oxford; he has had an interest in politics and has been active in the political scene since his early days of high school.

Today, Jealous is a venture capitalist and a visiting professor at Princeton. He is the father of an eleven-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son, and officially declared his candidacy for the Maryland gubernatorial election on May 31, 2017. Jealous came to St. Mary’s County Aug. 26 for an event hosted by the president of St. Mary’s County Democrats, Bill Bates. Attending the event was an eclectic mix of people, from senior citizens to seniors in high school. At this event, Jealous spoke about his primary goals and ideals for this state.

Jealous wants to end mass incarceration and student debt, make college more affordable, improve education, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour to match inflation, create jobs, supports equality and immigration rights, and perhaps most controversially, wants to establish a single-payer healthcare system in Maryland. A single-payer healthcare system, also known as Medicare for All, is a method in which the state, funded by taxes, covers all basic healthcare costs for residents regardless of their financial status or occupation. Canada and several European countries already have a single-payer system established, while many other countries have a combination of single and multi-payer. Ten states in the United States have already proposed the idea of moving towards a single-payer system. Maryland is actually ahead of the curve if desired to move forward with single-payer as it is the only state in the country that has the required federal waiver to do so.  

While some of these ideas may seem radical to conservatives, Jealous stresses about his campaign, “We’re running not to the left or to the right, we’re running towards people to solve basic problems that we all share so that our kids can move forward.” Jealous says that even though he is a Democrat and is endorsed by Bernie Sanders, he has Trump supporters and Republicans rallying for him as well. Jealous states that he is all about pulling people together and building bridges, not dividing the masses.

The only Republican currently declared for the 2018 Maryland gubernatorial race is Governor Larry Hogan. On the Democratic side, there is Ben Jealous, Rushern Baker, Jim Shea, Alec Ross, Richard Madaleno, Ralph Jaffe, and Krishanti Vignarajah—the former policy director to former First Lady Michelle Obama. Voters still have 10 months until primary elections, but it isn’t too early to start considering who you want to vote for. Will there be four more years of Hogan, or someone new to fill those shoes?

Cover image provided by Jerusalem Demsas, deputy communications director for Ben Jealous.

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