Political Notes: Baker’s Standing at Home, New PAC, New Annapolis PR Firm

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III would get 48 percent of the Democratic gubernatorial primary vote on his home turf, according to a recent poll shared with Maryland Matters. The survey, conducted in mid-April, showed Baker’s 48 percent well ahead of the runner-up, former NAACP president Benjamin T. Jealous, who registered 17 percent in the poll. The other Democratic contenders were mired in single digits, and 24 percent of the poll respondents were undecided. The poll of 416 registered Democratic voters in Prince George’s was taken April 10-17 by Gonzales Research & Media Services for the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable. It had a 5-point margin of error.  

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III T

he polling firm was in the field before the sudden death on May 10 of another leading gubernatorial contender, the late Baltimore County executive Kevin B. Kamenetz (D). Kamenetz’s running mate, former Montgomery County councilwoman Valerie L. Ervin, is running for governor in his place. In the poll, 65 percent of voters said they approved of the job Baker is doing as county executive (32 percent “strongly approve” and 33 percent “somewhat approve”), while 21 percent disapproved (11 percent “strongly disapprove” and 10 percent “somewhat disapprove”). Sixty-two percent said local government is moving in the right direction dealing with issues facing the county, while 21 percent said things are off on the wrong track, and 17 percent offered no opinion.   Two-thirds of Prince George’s Democrats said they regard the quality of life in the county in a positive manner, with 11 percent rating it “excellent” and 56 percent rating it “good,” while 22 percent characterized it as “fair,” and 6 percent rated it poor. African-American voters and white voters assessed Prince George County’s quality of life equally optimistically. The satisfaction of Prince George’s residents comes as political opponents hit Baker for a series of scandals and missteps involving the management of the county school system. The Prince George’s County executive has the power to appoint the school superintendent, and embattled CEO Kevin Maxwell recently announced his decision to depart at the end of the school year. “We saw no evidence whatsoever the school issue affecting Rushern,” M.H. Jim Estepp, president and CEO of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable, told Maryland Matters. But solid as Baker’s showing in Prince George’s was, it does not compare to former Gov. Parris N. Glendening’s (D) performance at home in the 1994 Democratic gubernatorial primary. Glendening, the last Prince George’s executive to run for governor, received 83 percent of the vote in his home county in the seven-way primary that year. Glendening has endorsed Baker’s run for governor. PAC to boost LGBT candidates LGBT activists are launching a political action committee to advance their cause and support openly-LGBT candidates this political season. The Maryland LGBT PAC,is holding its first public event Thursday evening at Denizens Brewing Company in Silver Spring – a brew pub co-owned by Julie Verratti, a lesbian running for lieutenant governor on a ticket headed by tech entrepreneur Alec J. Ross. The reception is being hosted by the PAC’s registered officers, Kris Fair, a Frederick-based LGBT activist and former candidate for Frederick City alderman, and Brian Gaither, an LGBT activist from Baltimore. “There are a number of strong non-political organizations serving the state’s LGBT community,” Fair said. “But, we’ve really been lacking the one that will get more people to run as openly-LGBT candidates and then help them get elected.” The candidates currently being supported by the Maryland LGBT PAC are state Senate candidates Dana Beyer in Montgomery County’s District 18 and Jamie O’Marr in Carroll County’s District 5, delegate candidates Mila Johns in District 18, Gabriel Acevero in Montgomery County’s District 39, Ashanti Martinez in Prince George’s County District 22, Patrick Armstrong in Anne Arundel County’s District 32, Kevin Mack in Montgomery County’s District 15, and George Zokle in Montgomery County’s District 20. Beyer, whose election would make her the senior-most transgender person in American government, called the new PAC “a long-needed entrant into the state’s Democratic Party politics.” Ray of sunshine Ray Feldmann, a veteran communications official with a long professional history in Maryland, is preparing to hang his own shingle. Feldmann this week is winding up a five-year stint as senior director of communications at Towson University, his alma mater, and will open Feldmann Communications Strategies in Annapolis next month. Feldmann announced the move in a Facebook posting Tuesday. An Annapolis resident, he said he was looking forward to forgoing the three-hour daily commute. “I’ll specialize in crisis communication, along with media relations strategy and hands-on media training,” he wrote. “I’m excited and looking forward to this new (ad)venture!!” Feldmann has had a long and varied career in and around Maryland, including stints as press secretary to Glendening and vice president for communications at the Washington Metropolitan Transportation Administration. [email protected]

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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