Lion King Hopes to Roar in Prince George's House Primary

What was shaping up to be an easy reelection for Prince George’s County Dels. Diana M. Fennell (D) and Jimmy Tarlau (D) became considerably more complicated when Cheverly Town Councilman and political scion Julian Ivey entered the District 47A Democratic primary weeks before the candidate filing deadline. Tarlau and Fennell were confident they’d run unopposed in the two-seat subdistrict – part of a larger legislative district with an array of overlapping political alliances. State Sen. Victor R. Ramirez’s decision to run for state’s attorney triggered an intense period of political jockeying, and it appeared as if many Prince George’s leaders had reached an agreement about who should be slotted for which spot on the ballot. But Ivey’s decision to run – for a seat his mother held for eight years – quickly scrambled the picture. Ivey, the son of former state Del. Jolene Ivey and former Prince George’s State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, has cast himself as the leading progressive in the race. But there’s also a generational angle to his challenge: Ivey is running for the House, and serving on the town council, while simultaneously finishing his senior year at the University of Maryland, College Park. Tarlau turns 70 this month; Fennell is 50.  Tarlau said Ivey is a bright young man, but doesn’t have the experience for the legislature. Although both Tarlau and Fennell are finishing their first terms in Annapolis, both have a great deal of experience in municipal government: Fennell spent 15 years as mayor and councilwoman in Colmar Manor; Tarlau served seven years on the Mt. Rainier City Council.  Julian Ivey  Ivey said this was the same argument used against him when he was running for town council last year. “Individuals told me to my face that I didn’t have experience and I couldn’t get it done, but it emboldened me,” Ivey said. In his first year on the town council, Ivey passed sanctuary cities legislation, and he said skeptics should not be surprised when he surpasses expectations in Annapolis.Ivey has an unusual background: In 2007, he spent half a year starring as Simba in the Broadway production of “The Lion King.” Tarlau and Fennell were elected to the House in 2014. Tarlau said they have spent four years doing everything they should as legislators and have worked together to push progressive legislation. Tarlau proposed and passed legislation keeping the Maryland estate tax exemption cap at $5 million in response to federal tax reform increasing the cap to $11.2 million. He and Fennell were co-sponsors of legislation requiring employers to provide paid sick leave and a bill that would establish a $15 minimum wage statewide. Tarlau said he has knocked on over 6,000 doors in his district and will continue to campaign until Election Day. “We are not the people who you elect them and never see them again,” Tarlau said. Ivey said he’s particularly sick of politicians who brand themselves as progressive but don’t vote accordingly. He said he plans to push legislation that “moves the entire state to the left.” Ivey described himself as passionate about criminal justice reform, renovating schools in Prince George’s County. He also said he wants to start pre-school in Maryland at age 3 instead of 4.  Tarlau and Fennell have slated with Del. Carlo Sanchez (D), the incumbent seeking reelection in District 47B, along with Malcolm Augustine, who is running to succeed Ramirez in the state Senate. Augustine, a member of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Agency board, is close to Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). Ramirez has endorsed Ivey in District 47A and attorney Wanika B. Fisher, who used to work for Ramirez’s law firm, in District 47B – even though Sanchez is also a protégé of Ramirez’s. Glenn and Jolene Ivey have hosted a fundraiser for Ramirez’s campaign for state’s attorney – and Jolene Ivey is heavily favored to win a Prince George’s County Council seat this year. The Iveys are close to Baker — who is in fact the godfather of one of Julian Ivey’s brothers. But Julian Ivey has endorsed former NAACP president Benjamin T. Jealous for governor over Baker in the Democratic primary.            

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