By John O. Sullivan
“The press is geared up for its favorite blood sport – Democrats attacking each other – and I know that’s what some people are gonna tell you to do, but we cannot allow that to happen.” -The West Wing, S6E20
Last night, Marylander’s were treated to one of life’s great delights, a democratic gubernatorial primary debate on public television. In case you, for some insane reason, do not find this unique viewing experience to be a priority, it’s okay, the Finest Bagels Blog has you covered with our thoughts on the debate and the candidates, which will be mercifully short because the Democratic primary field has a whopping 8 candidates, condensed down into a whirlwind 60 minutes.
In order of appearance:
One of the front runners for the nomination, Baker, is expected to be hampered by accusations of corruption on his watch in Prince George’s County both in schools and on the liquor board. Grade-fixing and bribery are pretty rough charges, but it didn’t come up much in tonight’s debate, and Baker was calm, cool, and collected, if a little unmemorable. He might not have won the nomination tonight, but he didn’t lose it either, and coupled with news of his fundraising challenges, with less than a 10th of what incumbent Larry Hogan has in his war chest, he needed more than that in his showing.
I honestly feel bad for Valarie Ervin. Less than two weeks ago, she was running as Lieutenant Governor on a ticket with Kevin Kamenetz, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on the 10th. She was then forced to make a snap decision, should she run for governor, find someone new to take Kamenetz’s spot on the ticket, or just drop out? She chose to run as governor, and nominated a new Lt. Gov candidate, but the Board of Elections says they will not print new ballots. As a result, she spent a lot of time talking about her former running mate’s vision and legacy, but showed a spark that makes me think her campaign and candidacy will grow stronger as she is able to introduce herself to Marylanders. However, it is to be seen if she will be able to make a memorable impression on Marylanders, especially with the wide field of candidates who WILL be on the ballot.
Want to beat an older white guy with no prior elected office experience? Send an older white guy with no prior elected office experience. This was essentially Jim Shae’s argument. Shea is an established Baltimore attorney with big connects and big pockets that have helped him raise a whopping $2 Million so far (a quarter of which came from himself). I do however, adore the guy’s running mate, Baltimore City Councilman Brandon Scott, so I’m willing to give Shea a chance, but his answers in the debate were a complete snooze fest. He was talking about Economic Development, Infrastructure, and Commuting, which are all things people care about, but maybe not what you want to devote your time to in your first major TV appearance of the campaign. He is probably the most moderate of the candidates.
UGGGHHHHHHH I HAAAAAAAAAAAATE THIS GUY. He is not a good candidate. He is a bad candidate. He is a terrible candidate. He’s like a poor Elon Musk. In summary, he’s one of these guys that think an algorithm is going to solve world hunger and that everyone learning to program will eliminate poverty. He doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell against incumbent Larry Hogan. Also he makes way too many hand gesticulations while he’s talking. He talked about nice broad-stroke Democratic sweet spots like STEM education, educating people in trades, and legalizing weed, but didn’t talk much about how he’d get it done. Not the guy for me.
I’m not going to lie to you, going into the debate tonight, Madaleno was my guy. I think he has arguably the highest level of experience and best track record of the candidates. I’m not sure if Maryland is ready for an openly gay governor with two adopted children, but I sure as hell am. Sadly, his debate performance is was only middling. He did do a good job showing he cared about more than his home of Montgomery County, although his answers were a bit stiff at times. For whatever it’s worth, he’s also the only candidate taking public financing, which comes with a whole bunch of extra restrictions on who can give you money and how much.
Krishanti O’Mara Vignarajah
Okay so honestly writing out her whole name was unnecessary I’ll cop to that. She goes by Krish. But there’s a little problem with the fact that she might not actually legally be able to run for the Maryland governorship, because she might actually be a DC resident. Oops. Her main claim to fame is working for Michelle Obama, and I gotta be honest I’m not sure why she’s in the race. But her performance was respectable, with a great line: “They say no man can beat larry hogan, well I’m no man.” (She has been going HARD for the women’s vote.)
James Hugh Jones II
Whos man is this? I’m not sure. Even the Baltimore Sun, which described him as “A Baltimore City man” doesn’t seem sure. I think I love him though. First of all his suit was absolutely on point. Best looking suit up there tonight. He talked a little too much about transparency and checks and balances, but I mean hey they’re important. His answers were a little fluffy, at one point in an answer about transportation saying he’d “get people in a room to talk about it.” But you know what, government isn’t all grand plans. Sometimes all you can actually achieve is getting people in a room and talking. But goddammit that’s not nothing. He was personable, a little funny, and by god he’s an ordinary Marylander (unlike the rest of the field, which is about half businesspeople and former-presidential[and almost presidential]-advisors). Not kidding, Winston did about 10 minutes of googling just to find this small picture of him, and I had no idea who he was before tonight, and maybe thats because the highest public position he seems to have held is Police Chaplain. I think he might be severely underqualified, but I’m looking forward to the viewing experience next debate.
Oh honey… oh no…. Ben Jealous looked god awful in the debate. He could barely finish a complete sentence, even in his opening statement. A Bernie Sanders Democrat who is former CEO of the NAACP, many expected Jealous to be a front runner in the primary, and he still is, however he’s spent more of his fundraising dollars than any other candidate to stay there. I expect trouble is on the horizon for Mr. Jealous. If James Jones gets “biggest overachiever” award, then Ben Jealous gets the “Biggest Underachiever” award for last night’s performance
Jaffe could not be in attendance for the debate, as he was celebrating the Jewish holiday of Shavout. So instead, he got what amounted to a 5 minute infomercial at the end of the debate. Ralph is a fringe candidate in every sense of the word. He claims that he is not a politician, however one commentator (whose tweet I can’t find, sorry), pointed out that he has appeared on a Maryland ballot nearly every year over the last decade. He has sworn to accept no donations, draw no pay as governor, and in a a Juan and Evita-esque move, he made his running mate his wife. I can’t believe I’ve wasted 108 words (and counting) on his run, but screw it here’s a link to his website, fedupwithcrookedpolitics.com.
Incumbent governor Larry Hogan was obviously not a participant in last nights Democratic Primary debate, but if the debate was any indication, the governor, who has a whopping $9 MILLION cash on hand, more than all of his opponents combined, is in a good spot. Many of the fundamental factors we have written about before (several times), but Hogan’s position still appears strong. Though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Maryland 2-to-1, recent polling still puts Hogan in a very strong position compared to his opponents. Thankfully for us, there are three more debates scheduled before the June 26th primary, and they should all be thrilling viewing.
If my written description wasn’t enough, you can watch the full debate here watch out for that James Jones though, he just might steal your heart.