Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) and his Democratic challenger, former NAACP president Benjamin T. Jealous, sweated their way through Labor Day gatherings on Monday, with the election now just nine weeks away.
Hogan stumped at parades in Kensington and Gaithersburg while Jealous hit the Labor Day parades in Greenbelt and Gaithersburg and then a Democratic picnic in Ellicott City.
As part of its Labor Day message, the Hogan campaign released a 3 1/2-minute video interspersed with Hogan speech clips, news reports, working Marylanders extolling the governor’s virtues, and a reminder about the unions that have endorsed him, even though they frequently side with Democrats.
“I’m 32 years old and Larry Hogan is the best thing that has ever happened to this state,” a Gaithersburg mechanic named Timothy says in the video.
Jealous countered by marching with members of the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) in Greenbelt.
Separately, the Maryland Democratic Party released statements pointing out that Democrats in the General Assembly passed a paid sick leave measure over Hogan’s objections and noting that while Hogan last week criticized President Trump’s proposed federal pay freeze, he has attempted to freeze state employee pay twice.
“When we ask our members if their workplaces are better off than they were four years ago, their answer is unanimous: no,” Pat Moran, president of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 3,” said in the Democrats’ statement.
On Tuesday, the opening day for public schools in Maryland – thanks to Hogan’s decree two years ago that they open after Labor Day – both Hogan and Jealous will turn their focus to education.
This comes amid word late Monday that at least 10 Baltimore County schools will be closed on Tuesday due to the extreme heat – and the fact that they don’t have air conditioning. Similarly, as many as 60 schools in Baltimore City will be closing early Tuesday due to “inadequate cooling,” according to the school district website.
The lack of cooling and heating in Baltimore County and Baltimore City schools has been an ongoing political issue, with Hogan and his close ally, Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D), highly critical of county officials over the past few years.
Hogan is scheduled to be visiting Waugh Chapel Elementary School in Odenton on Tuesday morning, then, according to his official public schedule, he will make an “education policy announcement” in the State House.
Jealous is scheduled to visit Garret Heights Elementary and Middle School in Baltimore on Tuesday, where he will greet students and also unveil a plan to create the Teacher School Supply Fund, which would help reimburse teachers who spend their own money on school supplies. It would accomplish this by allowing Marylanders to donate a portion of their tax refund to reimburse teachers for school supplies for their classrooms.
The proposal comes on the heels of a recent survey for the MSEA that found that 91 percent of Maryland educators paid for school supplies out of their own pocket in the last year.
In a related development that was largely missed due to the timing of the announcement – Friday afternoon, just before the holiday weekend – Jealous picked up the endorsements of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and the Maryland chapter of the Sierra Club.
“Mr. Jealous is running on a strong environmental agenda that aligns with many of our current campaigns and priorities,” Karla Raettig, Maryland LCV executive director, said in a statement. “In particular, we are inspired by his commitment of our shared goals for Maryland to lead on renewable and clean energy in Maryland and his focus on smart growth for all of Maryland’s communities.”
The Maryland LCV said Hogan, who has promoted his environmental record throughout the campaign, did not participate in the organization’s endorsement process.
NOTE: We’ll have more on the Labor Day campaign vibe later in the week.