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Government & Politics

The Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates on the Issues

The Democratic primary for governor is less than a week away. The candidates are all advancing progressive policy prescriptions. So how to tell them apart?

The differences are subtle. The candidates are emphasizing their resumes and records as much as their positions. Still, a little exploration into their policy positions reveals some of their priorities.

These summaries were compiled from their campaign websites. Read on to learn more.

Rushern L. Baker III and Elizabeth Embry

Baker, 59, is the Prince George’s County executive.

On Education: He wants to fully fund Maryland public schools in order to increase teacher salary statewide and fund universally accessible pre-K and full-day kindergarten. Baker believes socioeconomic status should not be a determinant of access to higher education and will expand funding for community college to increase affordability for all students.

On the Environment: He has developed a plan — the Baker Greenprint — that would make Maryland the first state in the U.S. to achieve 100 percent clean energy. The plan would make Baltimore the “clean energy manufacturing capital of the country,” invest in a statewide recycling and compost system, enact a statewide ban on Styrofoam and plastic bags, and invest in renewable clean energy infrastructure. Baker also places an emphasis on the importance of mass transit as opposed to mass vehicles to reduce vehicle emissions.

On Health Care: Baker believes in establishing a statewide requirement for paid family leave. He wants to guarantee accessible and affordable health care to Maryland residents.

On Criminal Justice: Baker wants to increase diversity among police officers to repair race relations between communities and law enforcement. He believes in reducing prison populations and addressing the racial disparity within prisons while finding ways to eliminate barriers for a successful return to society among former prisoners. Baker wants to increase educational opportunities in juvenile facilities. He also believes in a state effort to fight sexual assault on college campuses and in the workplace.

On Poverty and Economic Development: Baker plans to expand the Transforming Neighborhoods initiative to promote development in vulnerable communities. He plans to provide tax subsidies to women-owned and minority-owned businesses and wants to close the gender wage gap. Baker wants to increase funding for state child care vouchers and provide tax credits to companies that provide child care to employees. He wants wants to focus on mass transit projects instead of road construction to reduce Maryland infrastructure problems.

Running mate: Elizabeth Embry, 41, of Baltimore. She is currently an attorney in the Maryland Attorney General’s Office Criminal Division and has served as the deputy for policy and planning in Baltimore City State’s Attorney Office. She ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Baltimore in 2016.

Endorsements: Former Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening, Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, The Washington Post, Greater Greater Washington and Maryland State Council of Machinists Teamsters Local 730.

Ralph Jaffe and Freda Jaffe

Ralph Jaffe, 76, is a teacher from Baltimore.

On Education: Jaffe says he will attempt to abolish the Maryland State Department of Education.

On the Environment: He wants to abolish the Maryland Vehicle Emissions Inspection Program.

On Health Care: Jaffe believes that the quality of care given to patients unable to afford private aides is a disgrace.

Running mate: Freda Jaffe of Baltimore.

Benjamin T. Jealous and Susan W. Turnbull

 Jealous, 45, is the former president of the NAACP.

On Education: Jealous supports universal pre-K statewide, which would be paid for by legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana for adult use. He wants to raise teacher pay by 29 percent and prioritize increased funding to impoverished school districts. Jealous plans to increase professional input in developing a special education curriculum to create personalized education plans. He wants to guarantee free community college for Maryland students and debt-free college in four-year public institutions. Jealous also wants to restore and protect historically black colleges and universities.

On the Environment: Jealous wants to set deadlines for the state of Maryland to become 100 percent dependent on clean and renewable energy sources. Jealous plans to return Maryland’s focus to smart development projects that won’t encroach on environmentally important areas of the state. He wants to reduce air pollution, especially in affected areas and integrate environmental justice policies into Maryland law.

On Health Care: Jealous believes health care is a “moral and economic imperative” and wants to create a state universal health care system called MD-care to guarantee every Marylander health care coverage. He wants to lower drug prices and target manufacturers of pain medications contributing to the opioid crisis. Jealous plans to establish a state office of pain management, addiction and recovery to devote more resources to Marylanders struggling with addiction.

On Criminal Justice: Jealous wants to decrease prison populations by 30 percent by expanding the Justice Reinvestment Act. Jealous wants to ensure incarcerated females have access to reproductive health services and reform the testing and handling of rape kits. Jealous plans to establish a special prosecutor’s office that will oversee all cases of police misconduct in order to “police the police” and end the use of nondisclosure agreements for police misconduct settlements.

On Poverty and Economic Development: Jealous plans to invest in and expand affordable housing options in Maryland and provide extra state funds for rental assistance. He wants to reduce wealth gaps through home ownership and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Jealous wants to ensure all Marylanders have access to high-speed internet and promote growth in the technology sector.

Running mate: Susan W. Turnbull, 65, of Montgomery County is the former chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and a former vice chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

Endorsements: Maryland State Education Association, Service Employees International Union 32BJ, Progressive Maryland, Maryland Working Families, Maryland Postal Workers Union, CWA, CASA in Action, SEIU, UNITE HERE! Local 7, Baltimore Sun, Lower Shore Progressive Caucus, Our Revolution – Maryland, UFCW 27, UFCW 400, UFCW 1994, Greater Accokeek Progressive Activists, Talbot Rising, Frostburg State College Democrats, African American Coalition of Howard County, Progressive Neighbors, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt), U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, National Nurses United, Amalgamated Transit Union International, Friends of the Earth Action, former Obama Administration official Van Jones, Democracy for America, People’s Action,, Justice Democrats, and District of Columbia Nurses Association.

James Hugh Jones II and Charles S. Waters

Jones of Baltimore is a drug addictions counselor.

No other information available.

Running mate: Charles S. Waters, pastor.

Richard S. Madaleno Jr. and Luwanda W. Jenkins

 Madaleno, 52, is a Maryland state senator, elected in 2006, representing District 18 (Montgomery).

On Education: Madaleno wants to ensure tuition-free community colleges for all Marylanders and free foour-year college for all families with incomes below $150,000. He wants to boost the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers for public schools and work to establish state programs that will create college savings accounts for kindergartners.

On the Environment: Madaleno wants to work with neighboring states in order to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and restore the oyster and crab populations. Madaleno plans to join the multistate climate alliance to fight climate change despite President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Madaleno wants Maryland state energy to be 50 percent renewably-sourced by 2030 and 100 percent renewably-sourced by 2035. He also vows to deny permission to build any pipelines in the state in order to protect the water supply.

On Health Care: Madaleno wants to protect the Affordable Care Act in Maryland and continue the funding for Planned Parenthood should it be stripped at the federal level. Madaleno plans to implement stronger addiction prevention measures statewide and believes substance abuse and mental health should be a coverage requirement for health care providers. He also wants to increase support and the quality of facilities for disabled Marylanders.

On Criminal Justice: Madaleno is an advocate for stricter firearm legislation and opposes the presence of firearms in both private and public schools. He will promote measures to better trace and track how and when guns enter the black market but does not wish to interfere with gun owners who use their lawfully owned firearms to hunt. Madeleno also supports preventing those who have committed domestic abuse from being able to purchase guns. Madaleno is a strong supporter of eliminating mass incarceration and improving policing practices. He will push for appropriate treatment and rehabilitation to those in prison with addiction problems and will press for the automatic expungement of lesser criminal records. Rich will champion the creation of more diversion and restorative justice programs, which ensure that rehabilitation options are used when possible, as well as pre-release programs which help offenders transition successfully into their communities. Rich also will push to institute appropriate police reform, including ensuring that the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights appropriately balances protections for both the police and the public.

On Poverty and Economic Development: Madaleno wants to raise the minimum wage and will fight for paid sick leave for all Marylanders. He plans to use tax money to support the renewable energy sector and supports constructing the red line in Baltimore. He wants to form state partnerships with colleges and institutions to increase accessible and affordable career and technical training. Madaleno will develop a “homelessness first” program to address chronic homelessness.

Running mate: Luwanda W. Jenkins, 55, is a former business executive and worked for the O’Malley, Glendening and Schaefer administrations.

Endorsements: NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC, Maryland NOW PAC, Laborers International Union of North America, Pride Fund to End Gun Violence, Latino Democratic Club of Montgomery County, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, Food and Water Action, Baltimore County West Democratic Club, Montgomery County Green Democrats, LGBTQ Democrats of Montgomery County and Baltimore County Progressive Democratic Club.

Alec J. Ross and Julie C. Veratti

Ross, 46, is a tech entrepreneur from Baltimore.

On Education: Ross plans to invest in public school funding and construction based on need while accounting for poverty and vulnerability of the region. He wants to increase access to foreign language, STEM and AP courses by establishing an online high school academy. He wants to increase computer coding courses and increase support for girls entering STEM careers. He wants to expand state-funded grants and scholarships for students entering college while expanding non-collegiate career paths.

On the Environment: Ross plans to establish a Maryland Green Bank similar to one in Connecticut, funded through a mix of public and private investments into clean energy development and technology. He wants to renew Annapolis’ commitment to restoring the Chesapeake Bay and supports the Clean Water Blueprint. He wants to increase employer accessibility to skilled workers in the clean energy job sector and invest in more electric car charging stations across the state.

On Health Care: Ross plans to establish a state public option through Medicaid and preserve the Affordable Care Act. He wants to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana for adult use and work to reduce costs of prescription drugs. Ross wants to create more school-based mental health care providers easily accessible to students and expand sex education programs and access to contraceptives to schools in universities.

On Criminal Justice: Ross wants to establish higher sales taxes on firearm purchases and encourage smart gun technology use in the state. He will remove the NRA from its spot on Maryland’s handgun regulatory board and expunge the records of those convicted with marijuana-related crimes. Ross wants to place police officers in the communities in which they were raised to promote trust between communities and law enforcement.

On Poverty and Economic Development: Ross plans to invest $1 billion into an “inclusive education” plan with a focus on educating the 50 percent of Marylanders without a college education. This plan will work to close the technological skill gap and increase skill acquisition and training programs in the state. Ross wants to expand support for the Maryland Rental Housing Works program and increase funding to develop more affordable housing options.

Running mate: Julie C. Verratti, 38, is a co-owner of Denizens Brewing Co. in downtown Silver Spring. She has been active in Equality Maryland, the group that helped pass same-sex marriage in the state, the Human Rights Campaign, the Innocence Project, and other civic and political organizations.

James L. Shea and Brandon M. Scott

Shea, 65, is an attorney, former president of the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and former chairman of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance .

On Education: Shea supports establishing a program for universal pre-K statewide and increasing pay for Maryland teachers. He wants to align and increase support for vocational and apprenticeship programs with the jobs needed to promote students entering those fields. Shea wants to guarantee funding for K-12 that matches the projected growth of the state budget and implement the recommendations of the Kirwan Commission.

On the Environment: Shea plans to work to preserve Maryland’s oyster population and expand Maryland’s investments in the renewable energy industry. Shea wants 50 percent of Maryland’s energy to be renewable by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. He also plans to increase state support for renewing and protecting the Chesapeake Bay.

On Health Care: Shea wants to consider establishing an individual mandate for the state of Maryland if elected and create a contingency fund for children should the federal government end funding for CHIP. Shea plans to expand access to reproductive care and bolster and reward preventative care services in Maryland. He wants to increase availability of Nalaxone, the opioid overdose reverse drug, in all communities.

On Criminal Justice: Shea will expand state support for RICO and establish an official statute guaranteeing future support. He wants to make it a felony to be illegally in possession of a firearm. Shea wants to ensure Maryland holds police accountable for misconduct and promote the best practices for policing statewide. He also wants to reinvest in parole, probation and re-entry programs for formerly incarcerated Marylanders.

On Poverty and Economic Development: Shea plans to expand the MARC train and oversee the construction of the Purple Line. He wants to resurrect the red line idea of east-west transportation in Baltimore City and increase broadband internet access statewide. Shea wants further workplace safety regulations for farmers and specifically invest in internet access for farmers to promote business.

Running mate: Brandon M. Scott, 33, is a Baltimore City Council member.

Endorsement: District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine.

Krishanti O’Mara Vignarajah and Sharon Y. Blake

Vignarajah, 38, is a one-time policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama.

On Education: Vignarajah plans to fix public school funding inequities across districts and follow through with Kirwan Commission recommendations to invest more in Maryland schools. She plans to expand STEAM, or Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math, education and establish universal pre-K statewide. Vignarajah also wants to invest $500 million more in historically black colleges and universities.

On the Environment: Vignarajah wants to commit to 50 percent state use of renewably sourced clean energy by 2026 and 100 percent by 2035. She plans to create 80,000 jobs in the clean energy sector and invest in a 21st century transportation system including the Red Line. She also wants to work with upstream states like Pennsylvania and New York to mitigate their environmental problems affecting Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay.

On Health Care: Vignarajah believes in three months of family leave for every Maryland resident. She wants to develop a state-run public option for health care and expand the all-payer rate setting system for care costs. She wants to establish addiction treatment clinics in every single town in the state as well as the number of reproductive health care clinics. Vignarajah also wants to create a Veterans Affairs health care facility in Southern Maryland, which it is currently lacking.

On Criminal Justice: Vignarajah wants to invest $50 million for state-sponsored research about gun violence in schools and raise the gun purchasing age requirement to 21. She wants to ban bump stocks and develop stricter background checks and a 10-day waiting period for those interesting in purchasing a firearm. She wants to require smart gun technology on all handguns sold in Maryland by 2025 and strengthen red flag laws.

On Poverty and Economic Development: Vignarajah plans to create 250,000 well-paying private sector jobs by encouraging technology transfer and establishing business startup resources across the state. She will invest in reducing traffic by upgrading the metro and high-speed rail transit. She wants to guarantee access to high speed internet across the state and dedicate her efforts into expanding economic opportunity in Southern Maryland specifically.

Running mate: Sharon Y. Blake, 67, longtime teacher and former president of the Baltimore Teachers Union.

Read more Maryland Matters articles on the Maryland gubernatorial race:

“Analysis: The Immigration War at Home,” June 20

“Behind Ervin’s Endorsement of Baker: ‘Fire,’ Fury and a Chance to Play Kingmaker,” June 13

“As Primary Polls Tighten, Baker Presses His Case in Montgomery County,” June 12

“Analysis: Race for Governor Turns Serious and Voters Start to Pay Attention,” June 8

“Analysis: A Forgettable Candidate Forum. But It May Not Be the Candidates’ Fault,” May 30

“Analysis: Hogan Casts Long Shadow Over Desultory Democratic Contest,” May 28

“Dems Keep the Gloves on During Their First Televised Forum,” May 21


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The Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates on the Issues