After months on the fringes of the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, running an exploratory campaign, Anne Arundel County businessperson Juan Dominguez plans to become a full-blown candidate on Wednesday.
Dominguez will announce his candidacy at an early evening gathering at the American Legion Post 175 in Severna Park, offering supporters “fun, food and entertainment,” according to an invitation for the event.
In an interview Tuesday, Dominguez said that after a 3 1/2-month exploratory effort, he’s more convinced than ever that he can be a viable candidate in the May 14 primary — and he has developed a populist economic message to press his case.
“What we heard loud and clear from voters, from the middle class, from the working class and from the poor, is that the transfer of wealth to the top 1% over the last 50 years is really unacceptable,” he said.
Dominguez dipped his toe in the race in mid-May, saying his unique background would resonate with Democratic voters. The candidate said Tuesday he’ll bring a fresh perspective as a candidate who isn’t aligned with “the establishment” — and is neither a veteran politician nor a wealthy self-funder. But he conceded that running as a novice candidate is a challenge, and said campaign finance reform is desperately needed to level the political playing field.
“It’s disheartening that in America, it’s really difficult for a baseball coach, for a soccer coach, for a PTA parent, to become a candidate to run against career politicians and the super rich,” he said.
Dominguez is the seventh candidate in the Democratic primary, a field that includes U.S. Rep. David Trone, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, and Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando. As he said when he launched his exploratory committee in May, Dominguez believes his relative lack of political experience — he did serve as an elected member of the Bogota, N.J., borough council in the 1990’s — is an asset in the race.
A military veteran and the son of Cuban émigrés who came to the U.S. as teenagers, Dominguez, 56, has had a long corporate career. Until last Friday he was a vice president at Breezeline, a national cable TV and telecommunications company — he resigned to campaign full time — and previously was a regional executive at Comcast, a job that took him around the country. A 1989 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, he served in the Army for five years, leading a combat platoon during the Gulf War.
Dominguez lives in Severna Park with his wife, Cheyenne Dominguez, and two sons, ages 18 and 11.
When he first launched his exploratory committee, Dominguez’s campaign, at least on its website, was emphasizing some issues that did not seem especially in sync with the average Democratic primary voter, like China, “Big Tech,” “Crypto” and Israel. But more recently, blog posts on the site have addressed topics like wealth disparities, the importance of diplomacy over militarism, and the legacy of the 1963 March on Washington. Dominguez’s website currently lists 11 issues he plans to talk about on the campaign trail, including the right to a living wage, health care for all, and climate action that emphasizes environmental justice.
Dominguez said his three biggest priorities are closing the wealth gap, providing Medicare for all, and ensuring that Marylanders graduate from state colleges and universities or trade schools without yawning debts.
“We have the money, we have the resources, we have the wealthy to pay for these three things,” he said.
Dominguez said he considered the state’s forthcoming $15 an hour minimum wage “a poverty wage,” and said he believes $30 an hour is a minimum livable wage. But while he acknowledged that such a measure isn’t going to get through Congress any time soon, he vowed to meet with corporate leaders to encourage them to pay their workers $30 an hour or more. He also called for a 70% tax rate on annual income over $5 million.
Dominguez, the only Latino in the race, is currently feuding with leaders of the Prince George’s County Latino Democratic club, who are not inviting him to their scheduled campaign forum on Sept. 30. Part of the dispute is over whether Dominguez has reached a fundraising threshold that the group is requiring for candidates to participate in the forum.
Through June 30, Dominguez raised approximately $98,000 for his campaign and said this week that he should hit $250,000 raised by the end of the week. He said his goal is to raise $10 million for the Democratic primary and general election, with much of it coming from small donations.
He has also donated his family’s RV to the campaign, and plans to tour the state in it. The RV, which has been dubbed “The Working Xpress,” will be on display — and supporters can inspect it — outside the American Legion hall in Severna Park Wednesday evening.
“Here are the Dominguez voters — they are veterans and people in the military who vote in Maryland,” he said. “They are Black, Brown and white middle income voters. They are people who are frustrated because they know things have gotten worse for them over the last 50 years. They know that establishment candidates have not been fully invested in ensuring their success.”