Maryland’s Democratic primary is more than a year away, but candidates are starting to emerge for two new at-large council seats and other offices in deep-blue Prince George’s County.
Residents overwhelmingly voted in favor of the ballot measure creating the two at-large council positions last November. In addition, five of the nine current district representatives are term-limited by a county law that prohibits officeholders from serving more than two consecutive terms, meaning their seats will be open as well.
Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans more than 10 to 1 in the county, so the winners of the June 26, 2018, Democratic primary races will be overwhelmingly favored in the general election.
Calvin Hawkins — who has worked in county government for nearly three decades, including as a senior adviser to County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and to then-County Executive Wayne Curry — is emerging from his behind-the-scenes role to run for one of the two at-large seats.
Council member Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro), who is term-limited, said he is “seriously considering” an at-large run as well. His campaign office has been publishing a countywide email newsletter and news releases about Franklin’s views on national issues, and Franklin has appeared at dozens of events throughout the county in recent months.
Other candidates are expected to compete for the at-large positions, including former County Council member Eric Olson, who now works as executive director of a College Park economic development corporation and who confirmed he is considering a run.
Former council member Thomas E. Dernoga (D), who works in the Maryland attorney general’s office, is seeking to win back his old council seat in District 1, which will be vacated by Mary A. Lehman (D-Laurel), who is term-limited.
Jolene Ivey, a former state delegate who ran for lieutenant governor in 2014, is running to fill the District 5 seat being vacated by Andrea C. Harrison (D-Springdale).
Carlton C. Carter, a former school principal who made an unsuccessful bid for the Board of Education in 2016, has filed candidacy papers to seek the District 8 council seat that will be vacated by Obie Patterson (D-Fort Washington).
Lawyer and former Prince George’s County police officer Orlando D. Barnes has filed to seek Franklin’s seat in District 9, along with Brandywine resident Kevin M. Harris.
No one has emerged to publicly to declare their intention to run for the District 7 seat being vacated by council member Karen R. Toles (D-Suitland).
In the state legislature, Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George’s), whose health has been poor, is expected to retire, and Del. Angela M. Angel (D) has said she will run to replace him.
Maurice Simpson, president of the Prince George’s County Young Democrats, is running for one of the three state delegate seats in District 24. Dels. Erek L. Barron, Jazz Lewis and Carolyn J.B. Howard hold those seats, but Howard is expected to retire.
Political newcomer Ashanti Martinez, who worked on Del. Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk’s congressional campaign last year, announced last month — on his 21st birthday — that he will run for the House of Delegates in District 22, which includes Landover, Hyattsville and Greenbelt.
Martinez will compete for one of three seats held by Dels. Alonzo T. Washington, Anne Healey and Tawanna P. Gaines, all Democrats.
Two Democrats have surfaced to run against Sheriff Melvin C. High, a former high-ranking D.C. police official with a nearly 50-year career in law enforcement. They are Anthony Ayers, the Capitol Heights police chief, and Kendal Wade, a Prince George’s deputy.
Correction: An earlier version of this article mischaracterized former County Council member Eric Olson’s plans for 2018. He is considering a run for an at-large seat.