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Election 2024 Government & Politics

Political notes: Key endorsements in Senate race, including Jealous’ wish, plus news from Harford and the comptroller’s office

A Maryland state flag flies outside the State House in Annapolis. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Two of the three leading Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate chalked up significant endorsements this week. But one of the most intriguing developments in the primary was a de facto endorsement for a candidate who isn’t running.

At the annual gala for the group Progressive Maryland in Edgewater on Thursday evening, Ben Jealous, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor, urged U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8th), who was there to deliver the keynote address and earlier this summer said he would not run for Senate, to change his mind.

“I’ve always been a fan of our congressman and would be a huge supporter of him rethinking his decision not to run,” said Jealous, who introduced Raskin to the crowd, according to text of the speech provided by Progressive Maryland. Jealous, who is now executive director of the Sierra Club, called Raskin “a warrior, the fighter that will turn things around for us, the champion that Maryland needs.”

As Raskin walked up to the stage at Yellowfin Steak and Fish House, the 150 people in the crowd yelled, “Run, Jamie, Run!”

“That was an unauthorized message,” a slightly sheepish Raskin joked, according to one attendee.

“The energy in the room was electric,” said Larry Stafford, the executive director of Progressive Maryland. “The energy’s there and I think the votes are there, too. It’s what the [Democratic] base wants.”

But for now, Raskin remains on the sidelines, though he’s working hard to elect Democrats to the House and would likely become chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee if his party takes control of the chamber in January 2025. So for now, the principal Democratic candidates remain Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando and U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th).

Jawando picked up support this week from four local officials, including three from Alsobrooks’ home turf.

Jawando’s campaign announced that fellow progressive Democrats to endorse him are Prince George’s County Councilmembers Krystal Oriadha and Wala Blegay, Baltimore City Councilmember Kristerfer Burnett and Karen Meija, a councilmember in the town of Riverdale Park in Prince George’s.

The Jawando campaign has been especially eager to highlight support from the Prince George’s officials.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of these four fantastic public servants. This campaign is based upon the belief that we can build a shared prosperity for all Marylanders, and with their support, achieving this dream is increasingly possible,” Jawando, 41, said in a statement. “They represent the next generation of leaders in our state who are stepping up and doing their part to build a better future where no one has to be worse off for their neighbor to do better.”

In July, Jawando visited neighboring Prince George’s and received endorsements from city of Laurel Councilmembers Martin Mitchell and Carl DeWalt, Mount Rainier Mayor Celina Benitez and Colmar Manor Mayor Monica Casañas.

Jawando said he will continue to push for support in the state’s two majority Black jurisdictions of Baltimore and Prince George’s.

Earlier this week, Alsobrooks stood alongside Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-4th) in her campaign headquarters in Largo. The campaign said Ivey represents the county executive’s 100th endorsement. Besides Ivey, three other members of the state’s federal delegation have formally endorsed her: Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-5th) and Kweisi Mfume (D-7th) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D).

Although Rep. David Trone (D-6th) is mainly self-funding his campaign in the Senate race, he also has statewide support that includes Prince George’s County Councilmember Edward Burroughs III and Baltimore City Councilmember Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer.

On Monday, Trone released two new ads that summarize his life on a family farm in Pennsylvania and his support for abortion rights.

Earlier this month, Anne Arundel County businessperson Juan Dominguez announced he will also enter the Democratic primary as the only Latino candidate.

Meanwhile, Jawando spoke on a panel Friday at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s legislative conference in Washington, D.C. The discussion, titled “Protecting Black Boy Joy,” focused on disparities impacting Black boys and men.

On Friday evening, the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland hosted a reception for the first time during the annual conference. Gov. Wes Moore (D), Reps. Kweisi Mfume (D-8th) and Glenn Ivey (D-4th) and Del. Jheanelle Wilkins (D-Montgomery), chair of the Black caucus, were among those who attended.

Alsobrooks also hosted a reception Friday evening, as she has in previous years.

Alsobrooks this week picked up the endorsement of a leading regional environmental group, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network Action Fund, which tied its endorsement to the Congressional Black Caucus conference.

“This week, as Black leaders from across the country are gathered in D.C. for the Congressional Black Caucus Legislative Conference, the timing couldn’t be better to proudly endorse Angela Alsobrooks to be the next U.S. Senator for Maryland,” Quentin Scott, federal policy director for the CCAN Action Fund, said in a statement. “Alsobrooks’s commitment to seeking justice for all, whether it’s in the courtroom or legislative chamber, gives us confidence she is the best person to represent families across Maryland.”

Sanders departure creates third vacancy in Lierman comms shop

Maryland Comptroller Brooke Lierman’s communication shop will have three key positions to fill starting next week.

Valorie Sanders is expected to leave her position as deputy comptroller of the comptroller’s Office of Public Engagement and Communications on Tuesday, a spokesperson confirmed.

“We’re all going to miss her, but we are really excited about her path and look forward to staying in touch and seeing what happens next on our journey,” said Adam Abadir, a Lierman spokesperson.

Sanders, who holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree with a focus on industrial and organizational psychology from Capella University, was the first to hold the position of deputy comptroller of public engagement and communication. Lierman created the new office by combining traditional communications and social media with the agency’s ombudsman’s office as part of a restructuring after her election.

The departure of Sanders is the third recently from the communications shop. In recent months Tim Zink and Eva Lewis have also moved on to other jobs.

Zink, a former press secretary for retiring U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), briefly served as executive director of communications for Lierman.

Lewis left her job as executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party to become state public engagement director for Lierman before leaving earlier this year.

Both positions remain vacant.

Harford County agreement is a ‘temporary solution’

Harford County State’s Attorney Alison Healey (R) said a deal with the county to provide some access to the email account of a senior aide now on medical leave is only a “temporary solution.”

Healey and Harford County Executive Robert Cassilly (R) reached an agreement to provide access to the email account days after the prosecutor threatened court action. In a statement, a spokesperson for Healey said more access may be needed.

“Continued review of the forwarded incoming messages may require a supplemental request to the County for full access to state’s attorney’s office historical data for operational issues as they arise. Ms. Healey maintains that is her full legal right for access to the State’s Attorney’s Office data contained on the County servers,” a Healey spokesperson said in an emailed statement. The statement came one day after Healey and Cassilly each confirmed reaching an agreement to provide access to an email account used by a senior official within the state’s attorney’s office who is on emergency leave.

Healey, speaking on Monday, expressed frustration with Cassilly saying the executive had blocked access to the account, which she said was needed to stay on top of time sensitive and critical business including grants and invoices.

She threatened to seek a court order to force Cassilly to provide access. Additionally, Healey said her office would ask for “millions of dollars” for an email system separate from the one her office currently uses which is managed by the Harford County government.

Cassilly said Healey’s request was denied because he believes it is similar to a review of emails he conducted earlier this year that is now related to an ongoing criminal investigation involving the Office of the State Prosecutor and a Harford County grand jury.

The agreement reached between the pair Wednesday appears to have staved off the effort to seek a judicial order.

A spokesperson for Cassilly, however, said the agreement covers only new emails. Messages coming to the account of the employee on leave would be forwarded to the state’s attorney’s office. Senders would receive an automated response that their email has been rerouted from its intended recipient.

“This is a temporary solution to the current problem to address the immediate operational needs of the office,” the Healey spokesperson said in the emailed statement.

The spokesperson added Healey “will continue to move forward with her emergency budget request to achieve data independence from the Cassilly Administration so roadblocks like this never occur again.”


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Political notes: Key endorsements in Senate race, including Jealous’ wish, plus news from Harford and the comptroller’s office