New African-American Business Leaders’ Group Vows to Boost Jealous Bid

A new organization aimed at boosting economic opportunity for African-Americans has included Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Benjamin T. Jealous (D) in its first wave of endorsements. The Black Economic Alliance was founded by a group of African-American business leaders and others out of a concern that wages and opportunity for people of color continue to lag in the U.S.. The organization’s co-chairman, Dr. Tony Coles, the CEO of Yumanity Therapeutics, told reporters on Monday, “We’re bridging the gap between political candidates and the people most impacted by their policies, and supporting those candidates… where having a champion for black economic progress could make a difference for years to come.”  Dr. Tony Coles  In addition to Jealous, who hopes to unseat Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R), the Alliance endorsed three others — Stacey Y. Abrams (D), the state House minority leader and a candidate for governor in Georgia; Richard A. Cordray (D), the former state attorney general and federal banking regulator, for governor in Ohio (D); and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who is seeking a second term. Abrams, like Jealous, is black. Cordray and Kaine are white. The group said it has raised $3.5 million and expects to take in much more in the coming weeks. The money will be used in direct support of the 10-15 candidates the group expects to back this year, as well as through “independent expenditures,” typically paid advertising.  On a conference call with the reporters, Jealous, the former NAACP president and partner at Kapor Capital, said he was grateful for the support. “Every day I come to work with the heart of a civil rights leader and the mind of a businessperson who is fully engaged in our 21st century economy,” he said. “We know that our state can be wealthier, more prosperous and get beyond having the dead-last job growth in our region, if we simply open the doors of government and opportunity to all of our people.” Jealous said Maryland’s handing of medical cannabis licenses, which he said could eventually be worth $1 billion a year, was emblematic of the state’s failure to engage with the black community. “Twenty-four licenses were granted,” he said. “And despite the fact that our state is 30 percent black and has some of the best-known black entrepreneurs on the planet, including [Radio One founder] Cathy Hughes, not one of those black entrepreneurs got one of those 24 licenses.” In response, Scott Sloofman, a spokesman for the Hogan campaign, touted the governor’s record aiding minority business. “Governor Hogan is proud that Maryland ranks number one in the country for minority business ownership, and his pro-growth record is delivering new opportunities for Marylanders of every background all across our state,” Sloofman said. “Ben Jealous’ reckless proposals would require massive tax increases on every man, woman and child in Maryland which would wreck our economy, starting with those whose grip on prosperity is most tenuous.” Separately, tthe campaign announced that the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers had voted unanimously to endorse the governor’s reelection — becoming the 12th union to do so. “We believe Larry Hogan is the most experienced candidate in the race,” Roofers and Waterproofers International President Kinsey M. Robinson said in a statement. “After weighing the options, we believe Larry Hogan has the most solid plan for lifting Maryland’s economy and creating good jobs. [email protected]     [email protected]

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