A big thank-you to Maryland Democratic candidate for governor Ben Jealous for spending the afternoon with us at the New Deal Cafe, and to everyone who donated their time and talents to the event. It was terrific.
On behalf of Greenbelt Online I got to play journalist and actually interview him! Starting with Greenbelt-specific issues: he’s against the Maglev but also says “I don’t see how the Maglev happens,” which is assuring. Why? Because of the funds required and the need for 4-5 different federal agencies to be on the same page about it. He mentioned people whose homes are along the proposed routes and whose home values are now threatened, or at least in flux. I bet!
His positions on issues (all here on his website) are progressive and smart, perfect for the Old Greenbelt crowd. For example, he supports state-based Medicare for all, the only candidate taking that position. (It’s called MDCare.) And for education, he told me he’ll fight for full funding of schools with state income from the lottery and casinos, something that was promised but hasn’t come to pass.
Asked why Hogan is called “popular” in the media he scoffed, especially at the notion that Hogan is a moderate. “He’s funded by the Kochs and the NRA. His positions on immigration, education and mass incarceration are the same as Trump’s. He’s no moderate.” And Jealous mentioned that Hogan intends to redistrict Maryland in a second term, so we have to prevent that! I also learned from Jealous that Maryland governors have more budget authority than those of any other state.
I asked about his CV, noting that this is his first run at public office, and his response was enlightening (and humbling). Educated at Columbia and Oxford (where he was a Rhodes Scholar), community organizer and journalist, who rose to be the youngest president and CEO of the NAACP ever, and it thrived under his leadership. Currently he teaches at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Learn more from the About Ben page.
Finally, I asked him why he’s running NOW? Yes, it has something to do with the 2016 presidential election, after which he got by on the Serenity Prayer, he told me. So now he’s focused on the part of the prayer about changing what you can – running for state office so that Maryland can move forward, no matter who’s in the White House.
It’s notable (and encouraging) that Jealous has more low-dollar donors than all the other candidates combined and that just 1 percent of his donations have been from unions and small business. I became one of those low-dollar donors because I found Ben Jealous to be not just great on the issues but someone I could imagine getting things DONE.
Organizers of the event include New Deal Cafe President Michael Hartman and many others, I’m sure. Musicians donating their performance for the event were KIVA, Not2Cool Jazz, and Fez Tones Hafla.