The Candidates.

On Monday, Maryland’s eight Democratic candidates for the state’s governor had their first primary debate. While it has been noted that the candidates spent most of the debate focusing of Maryland’s current governor, Larry Hogan, these Democratic candidates do have some notable differences.

Rusheen L. Baker III is also looking to become Maryland’s next governor and is leading in the polls for the Democratic candidates. Baker is currently the county executive of Prince George’s County. Although he is not a Maryland native, Baker has demonstrated a long commitment to the state as he started his careers in Maryland politics at the Maryland House of Delegates in 1994. While serving Prince George’s County, Baker has been credited for improving ethical standards in the office and lowering the county’s crime rate. Baker is noted as an active member of the Alzheimer’s Association as the disease personally impacted his life in 2010 when his wife was diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Ben Jealous is the former chief-executive officer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He was the youngest person to ever hold the position. While serving NAACP, Jealous is noted for increasing online engagement and the number of registered voters. He is a native to California, but his father, Fred Jealous, was a leader in Baltimore. Jealous took after his father and worked at organizations such as the National Newspaper Published Association and the US Human Right Program at Amnesty International. Jealous is noted for supporting causes true to the party, such as same-sex marriage and opposing the death penalty.

Richard S. Madaleno, Jr. is a Maryland State Senator, representing Montgomery County. A native to Silver Spring, Madaleno began his career in the Maryland General Assembly’s Department of Fiscal Services. Prior to representing the 18th district, he served four years in the House of Delegates and worked for Montgomery County’s Executive Doug Duncan. Madaleno is considered a leader in the state for LGBTQ rights and in 2009, he sponsored the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. Other legislation and causes that Madelno has fought for include the Affordable Care Act, the Firearms Safety Act of 2013, the Hunger-Free Schools Act of 2017, and Planned Parenthood.

Alec Ross is a author and the former State Department official. He is credited for helping develop Barack Obama’s technology and innovation plan in the 2008 election. He worked alongside Hilary Clinton when he joined the State Department in 2009 where he worked to utilize video and social networking platforms. He has been voiced concern regarding the internet and surveillance capabilities. He has published a book, multiple articles, and received many awards, including the Distinguished Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State.

Krishati Vignarajah is looking to run for governor after serving Michelle Obama as the first lady’s former policy director. While working with the first lady, she led the “Let the Girls Learn” initiative. Currently, Vignarajah works as the founder and CEO of the organization, Generation Impact. Prior to starting her own organization, Vignarjah gained experience that the State Department where she worked with private sector investments and public-private partnerships. She is a former-professor at Georgetown University and also a former consultant at McKinsey & Company. Issues that Vignarjah remains passionate about include education and female empowerment. A native to Gaithersburg, Vignarajah grew up alongside two Baltimore City public school teachers.

Jim Shea is an attorney who is running alongside the Baltimore city Councilmember, Brandon Scott. Shea is a native to Baltimore and currently leads Venable. Venable is the largest law firm in Maryland and the most charitable law firm in the country. Venable is noted for supporting causes such as the House of Ruth during Shea’s 22 years of leadership. In addition to his work with Venable, he was Chair of Empower Baltimore Management Corporation where he worked to create jobs and assists small businesses in Baltimore.

Siblings are also taking on the Maryland election. Ralph Jaffe is running with his sister, Freda Jaffe. Jaffe is a resident of Pikesville and also a teacher. He has described himself as a teacher first. Jaffe has never raised more than $500 for any of his campaigns because he claims that one cannot remain ethical while collecting contributions. He has vocalized his support for youth development programs while also voicing his concern regarding the news and its bias.

Valerie Ervin is running in the place of Kevin Kamenetz, who died of a heart attack suddenly this month. Ervin was Kamenetz’s running mate and the first black woman elected to the Montgomery County Council. Ervin is also looking to gain support from Emily’s List, which is a national organizations that is committed to supporting Democratic-female candidates who support pro-choice legislature. She is running alongside a former Baltimore County school board member, Marisol A. Johnson. Although Ervin is committed to running in place of Kamenetz, election officials said that they won’t reprint ballots to replace Kamenetz’s name with Ervin’s.

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