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Blog COVID-19 in Maryland Government & Politics

Political Notes: Washington Out, Hoyer Foe Backed by Another Progressive Group

Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, there are still political developments to report ahead of Maryland’s April 28 primaries — which could eventually be rescheduled or moved to a mail-in ballots only election.

On Monday, state Sen. Mary L. Washington (D) announced that she was suspending her campaign for mayor of Baltimore. In a statement, Washington, who represents Northeast Baltimore’s 43rd District, said she determined that the public health crisis needs to be her primary focus in the weeks ahead.

“This is a time to set politics aside, as the health, safety, and well-being of my constituents must come first,” she said. “I have always followed the work, and right now, this is where I am needed most.”

Washington said that as soon as the General Assembly session ends on Wednesday, she will convene a resource response team with the 43rd District House delegation to deliver vital resources for those who may not be able to leave their homes and connect constituents to important information. She said she will also be working alongside local businesses who are being severely impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“Our local, independent business owners are at the heart of the 43rd District, and they will be facing unforeseen but devastating hardship in the weeks to come,” said Sen. Washington. “I am committed to working with my constituents every step of the way through our District’s, and Baltimore’s, recovery.”

Washington was lagging in most polls on the multi-candidate Democratic mayoral primary, and may have reached the conclusion that the public health crisis will make it difficult for underdog candidates to break through. But she was still going to be a factor in the outcome.

City Council President Brandon M. Scott (D), who may be poised to absorb some of Washington’s progressive support, issued a statement praising her role in the primary.

“Senator Washington’s deep commitment to the people of the 43rd District, and all the people of Baltimore City, her strong advocacy for our children and our schools in Annapolis, and her focus on transparency and accountability in local government enriched this race,” he said.

Washington’s departure leaves Scott, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young, former mayor Sheila Dixon, former prosecutor Thiru Vignarajah, former Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith and former federal official Mary Miller as the leading Democrats in the primary.

Meanwhile, Mckayla Wilkes, who is challenging U.S. House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer in the 5th congressional district Democratic primary, picked up the endorsement Monday of the progressive organization Democracy for America. The group grew out of the 2004 presidential campaign of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

“Born to a single mother still grieving her father’s unexpected death and raised with the help of welfare benefits and a close extended family, the struggles low-income families in Maryland’s 5th District face aren’t an abstraction for Mckayla Wilkes, they’re part of her life story,” Democracy for America’s CEO Yvette Simpson said in a statement. “That’s why Democracy for America is so excited to endorse her race for Congress. The fact is, if the Democratic Party is going to be the champion working families need in Washington, we need leaders in Congress who are closer to the pain, not simply closer to the powerful.”

Wilkes is the third Democratic primary challenger to sitting members of Congress that Democracy for America has endorsed this election cycle. The first, Jessica Cisneros, narrowly lost the Democratic primary to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) two weeks ago. The second, Marie Newman, is in an intense battle with Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) in a primary taking place Tuesday.

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