The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Rushern Baker will make a second run for Maryland governor in 2022

Former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) plans to run for governor in 2022.
Former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) plans to run for governor in 2022. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
Placeholder while article actions load

Former Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III said he is planning to run for governor of Maryland in 2022, joining what could be a crowded Democratic primary field after eight years of Republican rule.

Baker, who served as county executive from 2010 until 2018, came in a distant second in the 2018 gubernatorial Democratic primary, trailing former NAACP president Ben Jealous by 10 percentage points.

Jealous, in turn, was trounced by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the general election. With Hogan term-limited, Baker will be among the Democrats — who outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 among registered voters in Maryland — lining up to try to take back the governor’s mansion. Baker’s plans were first reported by the website Maryland Matters.

Takoma Park shooting: Off-duty Pentagon officer charged with murder

Baker, 62, said in an interview that he sees himself as well-positioned to address problems that have been revealed by the coronavirus pandemic, including deep health disparities, and to help lead the state’s economic recovery.

“I believe that you can make government work for everybody — that we don’t have to accept things the way they are,” he said.

Baker said he would not run if his successor, County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D) launched a gubernatorial bid. Alsobrooks, 50, is considered a rising star within the party and raised the most money of potential candidates in 2020. But she has said her focus, for the moment, is on Prince George’s County.

Baker took office as county executive one month after his predecessor, Jack B. Johnson, was arrested on corruption charges.

While leading Maryland’s second-most populous jurisdiction, he helped rebuild trust in government and led an economic transformation — including the opening of MGM National Harbor and plans for a new regional hospital set to open this year.

Baker’s first gubernatorial bid was hampered by lackluster fundraising efforts and political enemies he made in Prince George’s, including labor unions and opponents of his controversial efforts to improve county public schools.

Since leaving office, he has worked with the University of Maryland to launch a leadership program for newly elected local officials, served on the board of the University of Maryland Medical System and continued his advocacy work for Alzheimer’s disease, a condition that has long afflicted his wife, Christa Beverly.

Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) and former Montgomery council candidate Ashwani Jain have also announced plans to seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination next year. Author and activist Wes Moore has said he is “seriously considering” a run.

Other potential Democratic contenders include Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, Baltimore County Executive John A. “Johnny” Olszewski, former U.S. education secretary John B. King, U.S. Reps. Anthony G. Brown and David Trone, and former Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez.