Rushern Baker wins Prince George's executive race

By Miranda S. Spivack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 15, 2010; 3:33 PM

Rushern Baker III, who defeated Sheriff Michael A. Jackson and three others in the Prince George's County race for the Democratic nomination for county executive, said Wednesday that he was reaching out to his opponents to try to build a coalition that could help propel the majority-African American county to regional prominence as it vies with Fairfax and Montgomery counties and the District for more jobs and economic development and attempts to repair its struggling school system.

Speaking at a news conference at his campaign's Largo headquarters, Baker said the county's voters had "bestowed upon me a great honor and a great responsibility, and one that I do not take lightly." He said he hoped to get to work quickly, well before the general election Nov. 2 that is expected to reprise Tuesday's results, and begin the task of trying to "make a good county great."

His said he had contacted his opponents to try to begin the work of unifying the Democratic Party in the county.

Jackson conceded defeat to Baker early Wednesday morning and also called for unity.

"I spoke to Rushern and offered our congratulations," he told supporters at a union hall in Suitland. "We had a good conversation, and now that the campaign is over, there is a need for unity, for finding common ground, and for coming together for the good of our county.

"You have no idea how grateful I am and how generous you have been," he told supporters. "I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude for your affection, your love, your confidence in me, and for this opportunity to run to serve this county."

With 97 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning, Baker, 51, had captured 44 percent of the vote, compared with 32 percent for Jackson.

Baker had run for county executive twice before, losing both times to Jack B. Johnson, a former prosecutor who according to Baker failed during eight years in office to improve the commercial tax base, promote more economic development and fix the public school system.

Baker himself once led an effort to overhaul the county school board to boost the lagging schools.

Speaking to supporters at a party at Six Flags in Largo late Tuesday, Baker said the message from voters was "loud and clear."

"I think the people have spoken. . . . Prince George's, it is time to make a good county great. This is not the finish. This is the beginning line. Our goal is greatness. We celebrate tonight, but tomorrow we rise with the same energy, dedication and passion that we claim as the victory in this campaign, to make a good county great."

The crowd echoed his cheer, chanting: "Good county great. Good county great."

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