- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Democrats Ben Jealous and Maya Rockeymoore Cummings should be quite comfortable watching Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and their brother Dem Rushern Baker duke it out over the scandalous grade-fixing problem in Prince George’s County.

Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County is ground zero for the scandal, and Mr. Baker, the county executive, wants to replace Mr. Hogan as Maryland’s governor in 2018.

If Mr. Hogan plays his popularity cards right (and he has so far), Mr. Baker will manage to add fist bumps to his campaign ads and donations to his war chest thanks to an endorsement from — ta da! — Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

Mr. Van Hollen, Maryland’s junior senator who was blessed by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, endorsed Mr. Baker on Friday, the very day the Hogan administration released a report that slapped Prince George’s schools.

The report proved not merely allegations of grade fixing but also the failure to substantiate students’ graduations. For example, some grads had more than 50 days of inexcusable absences, proof of academic credits and community service credits were unavailable, and there was enough lousy recording to embarrass the top professors at the nation’s leading teachers colleges.

Yet, interestingly, Mr. Baker says that he stands behind his schools chief and, in the same breath, that he’s not to blame because Mr. Hogan oversees state education.

Mr. Baker shouldn’t be allowed to get away with throwing such shade around the state, and Prince Georgians, who live in the wealthiest black-majority county in the nation, certainly should toss sunshine on the grade-fixing scandal.

And the school child sex-abuse scandal.

And the county liquor board scandal.

And the unrelenting violent crime in the county.

It goes without saying that any politician who parses his lips to utter the words “vote for me” is going to support education.

It’s time for the not-so-well-known Mrs. Cummings and Mr. Jealous, the former head of the NAACP, which won the landmark Supreme Court ruling to desegregate public schools, to press Mr. Baker on education if nothing else.

They should start by pushing the envelope and ask why should Maryland voters trust Mr. Baker to run the state’s public schooling apparatus when he can’t even get a solid grip on Prince George’s County’s.

Look, Mr. Baker has been county executive for two, full, four-year terms. Some Democrats think that justifies his position in the pecking order.

In addition, a poll by Gonzales Research & Media Services showed that two-thirds of county Democrats think the county is moving in the right direction. The other third, not so sure.

What’s more, Prince George’s has the largest bloc of registered Democrats in all of Maryland.

But guess what?

A candidate can win the Governor’s Mansion without Prince George’s, as Mr. Hogan proved in 2014.

For Mrs. Cummings‘ part, while she has yet to plop on blue cap that reads “America Is Already Great,” she won the endorsement of Emily’s List, one of the nation’s most prominent political action committees when it comes to financing female candidates.

Mr. Jealous, meanwhile, has Big Labor at his back.

If the other Dems don’t want to hold Mr. Baker accountable for public school foul-ups, voters should again show how the political ground game is really played in the state of Maryland.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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