Rushern Baker, Prince George’s county executive, files for reelection


Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) leaves the Board of Elections offices in Largo on Friday after filing for reelection. (Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)
February 21

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III filed for reelection Friday afternoon, formally seeking another term to carry out what he describes as an agenda of reforming county government.

“I’m looking forward to finishing the job,” Baker (D) said after displaying his filing receipt at the county Board of Elections in Largo. “There’s a lot more to do.”

Baker kicked off his reelection bid in June, telling supporters that he needed a second term to accomplish his goals of overhauling the school system and spurring economic development.

Baker, a lawyer and former two-term state delegate, took office in December 2010. He succeeded Jack B. Johnson (D), who was arrested on corruption charges, along with his wife, a month before his term in office expired.

Baker promised to clean up the county government and pushed for ethics reforms.

During his first term, he notched several successes aimed at economic development. He won council approval of a $50 million fund to draw more business to the county and successfully campaigned for a resort casino at National Harbor, despite his previous stance against gambling.

Baker was less successful in his push to fully take over the public school system, instead settling for the right to select the next superintendent after state lawmakers worried that he was seeking too much power. He nonetheless hailed the move as a departure from the status quo and said he wants to build on it during a second term.

“For the first time now, we actually have a significant role in education,” Baker said.

He listed health care as another second-term priority, a nod to the plan to replace Prince George’s Hospital Center with a medical complex within the next few years.

During Baker’s first three years in office, the crime rate in the county decreased on par with national trends. He called it a “dramatic drop,” especially in the number of homicides. There was a 65 percent decrease in killings between 2005 and 2013 in a county that increased by more than 40,000 residents over that time.

As of Friday afternoon, no other candidate had officially entered the race to challenge Baker in the June 24 Democratic primary, according to the Board of Elections Web site. With the filing deadline set for 9 p.m. Tuesday, Baker’s campaign officials said they are not taking any chances and remain prepared for a competitive race.

“Regardless of if there’s a challenger or not, we are running to let the county know about his accomplishments,” said Sian Lewis, the campaign’s coordinator of volunteers.

To bring a cleaner, more open government to the county, Baker still has “a lot of work undone,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland.

Baker beefed up the county’s ethics office, with council support, during his first term but backed off his initial proposal to set up an independent Office of Inspector General. “We’re still in a place where time will tell whether that’s a strong enough reform,” Bevan-Dangel said of the expanded office, which oversees an anonymous tipline and has been tasked with teaching ethical practices to thousands of county workers.

Baker’s first event as a declared candidate will be Saturday morning, when he is scheduled to hold an open house at his campaign headquarters in Lanham.

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