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Jealous’ Campaign Manager Will Helm Rosenbaum’s Campaign Team

Michael Rosenbaum, the Baltimore tech entrepreneur who launched his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination this week, has hired Travis Tazelaar, a veteran Maryland political strategist, to be his campaign manager.

Tazelaar is one of several key hires that Rosenbaum’s campaign is preparing to announce.

Tazelaar headed the 2018 gubernatorial campaign of former NAACP president Benjamin T. Jealous, who won the crowded Democratic primary in impressive fashion before falling badly to Republican Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) in the general election.

He has also worked for the campaign of former Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake (D), led successful statewide ballot measures supporting marriage equality and the DREAM Act in the state, and served as executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party for the 2010 election cycle, when former Gov. Martin J. O’Malley (D) was re-elected.

“Mike is well-positioned in this race because Marylanders are looking for a candidate who understands that economic mobility, diversity, and inclusion have to be more than buzzwords from politicians,” Tazelaar said in a statement. “As our state rebuilds our economy post-COVID, Mike Rosenbaum stands head and shoulders above the field.”

Punya Krishnappa will be the campaign’s senior strategist. Most recently she served as deputy national field director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Prior to that she was the Director of States for Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote initiative, and has also worked for President Obama’s White House campaigns and for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Also joining the campaign staff: Erica Bernstein as finance director, Gina Kim as operations director, and Kyle Morse as communications director.

Bernstein is reprising the role she held during Jealous’ 2018 campaign, and she has also led finance operations for several congressional campaigns and worked for the 2016 Clinton campaign. Kim most recently worked for People For The American Way, the civil rights organization now headed by Jealous.

Morse most recently worked for American Bridge 21st Century, a Democratic political action committee, and he also worked for several members of Congress, including former Maryland Rep. John K. Delaney (D).

Rosenbaum for Maryland also announced a slate of high-powered national Democratic consultants who will advise the team throughout the campaign, including Magnus Pearson for media, Deliver Strategies for mail, HIT Strategies for polling, Mosaic Communications for media, and Wave Length for digital.

Magnus Pearson has elected several Democratic governors, including J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Jay Inslee of Washington, as well as Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio). Firm partner Elisabeth Pearson is a former executive director of the Democratic Governors Association.

Deliver Strategies has helped elect Democratic governors like Jared Polis of Colorado, Andy Beshear of Kentucky and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania. The firm also helped elect Warnock and new Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper (D).

HIT Strategies has worked for candidates up and down the ballot in Maryland over the past decade, and has also worked for advocacy groups such as the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, the ACLU, and the Human Rights Campaign.

Mosaic Communications’ recent clients include Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and the ACLU, while Wavelength Strategy has created digital ads for House, Senate and gubernatorial campaigns across the country.

“He’s building out a really serious team,” Morse said.

The Rosenbaum campaign is also peddling a poll from HIT Strategies that shows the growing Democratic primary for governor to be wide open — and voters receptive to a candidate with Rosenbaum’s profile.

The campaign did not make the full poll available to Maryland Matters, including the initial head-to-head numbers. But when asked to choose among Rosenbaum, Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, former attorney general Douglas F. Gansler, former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III, former Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, Baltimore County Executive John A. Olszewski Jr., foundation CEO Wes Moore, former U.S. Education secretary John King Jr., former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, and a generic “someone else,” 51% of likely Democratic primary voters maintained they were undecided.

Likely primary voters said they are looking for a candidate who can build an inclusive post-COVID economy, someone who wants to get rid of historic racism at the state level of government, someone who has lifted people out of poverty, and someone who has “big and bold ideas” on improving health care and reducing poverty.

After hearing more about Rosenbaum, 31% of Democratic primary voters viewed him more favorably and 19% of Democratic primary voters shifted their support to him, according to his campaign.

“The results clearly demonstrate that as Marylanders learn more about Rosenbaum he will continue to gather sizeable support among primary voters and is well positioned to clinch the Democratic nomination,” the pollsters wrote.

The poll of 800 likely voters, which included an “oversample” of 100 additional Black voters, was taken April 23-29. It had a 3.5-point margin of error.

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