Rushern Baker endorses in local races, but makes no pick yet in governor’s contest

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) on Monday endorsed a series of candidates in the June 24 Democratic primary, including his son, who is making his first run for public office, and a businesswoman and minister who is challenging longtime state Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr.

Baker’s choices represent a shifting electorate in Prince George’s County, said Jennifer Gore, a spokeswoman for Baker’s own campaign for a second term as county executive. She said Baker, who is running unopposed in the primary, chose to back candidates with whom he has worked well on behalf of the county in the past or whom he believes he can work well with in the future.

Baker did not say whether he would make an endorsement in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The contest could challenge the county executive’s loyalties as Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, a Prince George’s politician, squares off against Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, whose lieutenant governor running mate is Baker’s close family friend Del. Jolene Ivey (Prince George’s), and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery).

In a crowded field for the nomination to the two delegate seats in legislative district 23(b), Baker is supporting Thea Wilson, a businesswoman and minister, and incumbent Del. Marvin E. Holmes Jr. The other candidates are Vallario, who was first elected 40 years ago, and challengers Ron Watson and Reginald Tyer Jr.

As a result of a 2012 redistricting process, Vallario is campaigning for the first time in a northern section of Prince George’s County — instead of with his friends and veteran lawmakers Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and Del. James E. Proctor Jr. (D-Prince George’s) in a district that had included parts of Calvert County.

Rushern Baker IV, a lecturer at the University of Maryland, is in a contest with three Democratic incumbents in District 22: Dels. Tawanna P. Gaines, Anne Healey and Alonzo T. Washington. All three incumbents have raised thousands of dollars for their campaigns, with Healey leading the pack, according to state records. But Baker did not endorse any of them.

Another political newcomer to win Baker’s backing was sales and marketing entrepreneur Malcolm Augustine, who is running for the House of Delegates in District 47(a). Augustine was appointed by Baker to chair the Prince George’s County Cable Commission. Both he and the younger Baker have garnered significant support on the campaign trail.

Augustine is running in a two-member district against four other candidates, including incumbent Del. Michael Summers; Mount Rainier City Council member Jimmy Tarlau; Colmar Manor Mayor Diana Fennell; and Hyattsville City council member Joseph Solomon. Augustine trails leader Tarlau in campaign contributions, according to the most recent campaign finance records filed with the state.

For County Council, Baker endorsed incumbents Derrick Leon Davis and Karen Toles for reelection in District 6 and 7, respectively. Former state delegate Gerron Levi is challenging Davis, while community activist Bruce Branch and Capitol Heights mayor Kito James are challenging Toles.

In the three contested council races where there is no incumbent, he endorsed Vince Canales (District 4), Danielle Glaros (District 3); and Deni Taveras (District 2). Taveras and outgoing Del. Doyle L. Niemann are competing to succeed term-limited Council member William A. Campos. Canales is going up against the County Council’s legislative officer, Todd M. Turner, to fill the seat that will be left open by Ingrid Turner because of term limits.

“It is about bringing new blood to the table and injecting new energy into the county,” said Canales, who is the former president of the Prince George’s County Fraternal Order of Police.

In the four county nonpartisan school board races, Baker endorsed his administration’s Latino liaison to the school board, Dinora Hernandez, education commission appointee Lupi Grady and Sonya Williams, whom he appointed in December to fill a board vacancy.

Baker announced his endorsements during a campaign event at the Lanham headquarters for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26.

Arelis Hernández covers Prince George’s County as part of The Washington Post's local staff.
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