Rushern Baker event also gives other politicians a chance to shine

June 21, 2013

Rushern Baker’s fundraiser Thursday evening drew a virtual Who’s Who of Maryland politics.

It was also an opportunity for Prince George’s state’s attorney Angela Alsobrooks (D) to come before a large local audience in what many in the crowd speculated could be a warmup for her very own county exec bid in 2018, assuming Baker gets a second term. (He has no opponent, at least not yet). And it included a rare public appearance for Baker’s wife, Christa Beverly, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

The private event for incumbent Prince George’s executive Baker (D) was held at the county-owned Newton White mansion near Mitchellville. While it raised about $120,000 for Baker, the gathering also gave everyone from Attorney General Douglas Gansler (wants to be governor ) to Montgomery State Sen. Brian Frosh (wants to be attorney general) to former Montgomery exec Douglas Duncan (wants to be Montgomery exec again) a chance to mingle with about 500 political activists in voter-rich Prince George’s County. To say nothing of the dozens of incumbents in Prince George’s on the County Council and serving in the state legislature. (Baker’s daughter Aja read the long list).

Alsobrooks heaped praise on Baker, calling him a “great partner” in efforts to lower the crime rate and improve public safety.

She described the first few weeks of Baker’s administration in early 2011 when there was a rash of homicides in Prince George’s. “We had a murder a day for 16 days,” she recalled. She said Baker quickly brought together the sheriff, the police chief, and Alsobrooks to try to find a solution.

“He said ‘ I don’t care who gets the credit,’ ” Alsobrooks said. The bottom line: she described a major drop in crime in the county that has continued, mirroring a national trend. She pointed to Baker’s Transforming Neighborhoods Initiative as one of several causes. And she said his controversial move to take over schools also would likely show results beyond potentially improving academics because making school more interesting and appealing will help kids get needed job training and keep them off the streets.

“He has used the power of his office to bring people together,” she said. “He showed that education is worth fighting for as well. Is there anything that is too much for our children?”

Others who spoke out for Baker included Maryland Sen. President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D-Calvert), who is highly influential in county politics, and who Baker listed as one of his political mentors.

Baker’s three children, Rushern IV, himself considering a bid for state delegate; Aja; and Quinci also spoke for their dad, while wife Christa Beverly, whose Alzheimer’s diagnosis Baker disclosed last year, sat quietly to the side on the crowded podium.

When Baker finally addressed the crowd, he spent about 10 minutes, ticking off what he believes are his accomplishments. But he also spoke fondly about his wife, a longtime civil rights attorney, who he said “raised the five of us and is continuing to raise me. She is the best.”

The raucous crowd grew silent for a brief moment as Beverly rose from her chair. She did not speak.

“Any day she is able to be here with us, it’s a good day,” said Baker.

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