- The Washington Times - Monday, July 17, 2017

State Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. announced Monday his candidacy for Maryland governor, adding his name to an already crowded — and growing — field of candidates vying for next year’s Democratic nomination.

Speaking at The Universities at Shady Grove campus, Mr. Madaleno expressed his disapproval of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan while promising to be a change agent if elected next year.

“On the critical issues facing the people of our state, we need a bold, tireless governor who can set an agenda of progress for all Marylanders,” said the longtime Montgomery County Democrat. “Larry Hogan is not that governor. I will be that governor.”

He faces a stiff challenge: Mr. Hogan, who has not yet announced his re-election bid, enjoys a 65 percent approval rating in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 2-to-1.

What’s more, Mr. Madaleno is one of 14 declared or potential Democratic contenders for the June 26 primary. Others who have announced their candidacies: former NAACP chief Ben Jealous, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, Baltimore attorney Jim Shea and perennial candidate Ralph Jaffe.

Democrats reportedly considering a run for governor include state Attorney General Brian Frosh, Rep. John Delaney, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, state delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, former state Attorney General Doug Gansler, former state delegate Heather Mizeur, former Howard County executive Kenneth Ulman and wine merchant David Trone.

“There is no other candidate in the race — including Larry Hogan — who brings my track record of leadership and real results for the people of Maryland. I have served as an effective and unrelenting champion for the entire state,” Mr. Madaleno said Monday.

During his four-year tenure in the House of Delegates and following his 2006 election to the state Senate, Mr. Madaleno has pushed for legislation focusing on the poor, school funding and the LGBT community. He is the General Assembly’s first openly gay member.

Mr. Madaleno co-sponsored the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2008, which would have legalized same-sex marriage, and legislation that would outlaw discrimination against transgender residents in the public sector. Both bills died in committee.

Meanwhile, Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, the progressive darling of last year’s presidential race, is set to officially announce his support for Mr. Jealous’ candidacy Thursday.

“With Ben as governor, we can make healthcare a right, not a privilege. We can create a minimum wage which is a living wage,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement. “We can stop the school-to-prison pipeline and end mass incarceration. We can make college tuition affordable, protect our environment and create good-paying jobs.”

Mr. Jealous’ campaign risks splitting the black vote with Mr. Baker, whose school system is weathering a child sex abuse scandal, a state probe of grade-inflation charges and the loss of millions of dollars in federal Head Start funds.

Mr. Kamenetz, who also has publicly criticized Mr. Hogan, has said his decision on whether to run most likely will come after Labor Day.

“Democrats have to coalesce around a candidate early, and do so in such a way that they don’t leave some of their voters burned and unwilling to vote,” said Roger Hartley, dean of the University of Maryland’s College of Public Affairs. “Larry Hogan is very popular, no doubt. He’s positioned himself as a centrist, which is extremely smart.”

Though Mr. Hogan is the most popular Maryland governor since 1998, the deep-blue state has not re-elected a Republican governor since 1954.

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