At a July 13 rally at the Silver Spring Civic Center, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) continued to stoke the “Feel the Bern” movement while endorsing Benjamin Jealous in his bid to be Maryland’s next governor.
“We need now more than ever, at the statewide level, a different kind of leadership,” Sanders said to more than 300 supporters at the rally, sponsored by Our Revolution Maryland, the progressive group formed in the wake of Sander’s 2016 presidential candidacy. “Ben Jealous has the radical idea that government should work for all of the people, not just the 1 percent.”
Jealous, 44, former president and executive director of the NAACP, announced his gubernatorial candidacy on May 31 in Baltimore. The Pasadena resident is a venture capitalist with Kapor Capital. This is Jealous’s first run for public office, and he was a strong and vocal supporter of Sanders’ failed presidential bid against former Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton.
Sanders, 75, the first Jewish candidate to win a presidential primary in U.S. history, began his talk with a scathing attack against President Donald Trump.
“We have a president who by temperament is unfit to hold that office and whose policies are the most anti-working class in the modern history of America,” he said. “There is an enormous amount of pain in this country. There are millions and millions of people who right now are hurting. They are asking, ‘Does anybody know what I’m going through? Does anybody know that I’m a single mom and I can’t afford decent child care? Does anybody know what it’s like to be working for $10 or $11 an hour, to work 50 to 60 hours a week, and to be going nowhere because you spend half of that money on housing? Does anybody know what it’s like to be addicted to heroin and opioids, and not be able to get the treatment to break that addiction?”
Sanders praised Jealous as an empathetic, determined and well-informed leader.
“Ben understands that in the wealthiest country in the world, when we stand together, we can do enormous things,” he said. “He understands that we are going to raise the minimum wage in this state to a living wage of $15 an hour. He understands that in 2017, it is unacceptable that women make 80 cents on the dollar of what men make for the same work. He understands that we must rebuild our infrastructure and create many jobs to do that.
“Ben understands something that my colleagues in the Senate do not understand,” Sanders said. “That is, we must join the rest of the industrialized world in offering guaranteed health care for all people, Medicare for all, a single-payer system. Ben understands that in a competitive global economy, we need the best educated workforce in the world, so we need to make higher education in Maryland affordable for all so they can leave college with no debt.
“In many ways, this has been Ben’s life’s work.”
Sanders said Maryland’s upcoming gubernatorial race — in which the Democratic nominee will face incumbent and Republican Gov. Larry Hogan — goes deeper than statewide politics.
“We need to engage people in the political process,” he said. “Go out and knock on doors, go talk with your neighbors. We need a political revolution. The only way that change has ever come about is when ordinary people stand up and fight back!”
In his speech, Jealous promised to fight against Trump administration policies and called Hogan the president’s “doormat.”
“Our state has great people and a great future, but our children will not be able to live up to their full potential if we tolerate the status quo,” he said. “I have met with people whose children have died because of lack of access to health care. … I’ve been an organizer my entire life. So let me tell you, we don’t elect politicians to make change happen. We elect politicians to make it easier for you to make change happen.”
Other candidates in the race include Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, entrepreneur Alec Ross and Baltimore attorney Jim Shea. Expected to announce soon is Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. In addition, former Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Rep. John Delaney are reportedly considering a run.
Peter Arnold is an Olney, Md.-based freelance writer.
Photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders by Peter Arnold
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