Comedian Dave Chappelle, who grew up in Silver Spring and has known Jealous since they were children, joined him for a rally in Baltimore County and for door-to-door canvassing in Prince George’s County, a Democratic stronghold.
When Hermoine Charleron opened the door of her Mitchellville townhouse Sunday to find the comedian on the stoop, she screamed: “Oh my gosh, it’s Dave Chappelle!”
“Do you know why I’m here?” the comedian asked. “I’m here for my godbrother, Ben Jealous.”
Charleron said she had not been following the campaign and did not know about Jealous. “Is he a Democrat?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” Chappelle said. “He’s been endorsed by everybody from President Obama to Bernie Sanders. He’s a former NAACP president. A Rhodes Scholar.”
Hogan, ahead in the polls and aiming to become deep-blue Maryland’s second GOP governor to win a second term, told supporters on the Eastern Shore on Saturday that most people like the direction of the state under his leadership.
“It’s really pretty simple. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he bellowed hoarsely to a crowd of hundreds gathered in Grasonville, a few miles from the Bay Bridge.
The governor drew rousing cheers when he mentioned two of his signature accomplishments: averting tax increases and lowering the tolls across the bridge. Hogan has promised voters a second term would feature more tax relief and economic prosperity. (His record is mixed on similar promises from four years ago.)
Jealous, who would be Maryland’s first African American governor, held a rally in Baltimore County’s Gwynn Oak Park, where because of segregation laws his mother was not allowed to play as a child.
“We can make history in obvious ways,” Jealous told a diverse crowd of several hundred people.
But he urged his supporters to envision other potential milestones as well, including universal health insurance, eliminating the achievement gap in public schools and addressing disparities in state government contracting for companies owned by women and people of color.
On Sunday night, Chappelle walked more than two blocks in a targeted Democratic neighborhood, knocking on about a dozen doors, carrying one woman’s groceries and talking to residents who were walking their dogs or parking their cars.
People swarmed around to pose for pictures. Most told Chappelle that they’d already voted for Jealous. Others assured him that they would go to the polls Tuesday and do so.
“Let people know we’re going to do this thing,” said Chappelle, who carried lawn signs and asked homeowners if he could plant them in their yards.
Hogan has led Jealous by an average of 18 percentage points in polls, but most independent political observers — along with elected officials on both sides of the aisle — say they expect a closer race, in part because of widespread frustration among Democrats with President Trump.
“He might win by double digits, but not by 20 points,” said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College. “It’s a heavily Democratic state, and people are very unhappy with the president.”
While some Democratic leaders have been slow to rally around their nominee, many spent the weekend working with him and trying to boost turnout. Sens. Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and Rep. John Sarbanes joined the Gwynn Oak Park rally, where they called on those who had already voted to encourage their neighbors and friends to do the same.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings and Angela Alsobrooks, the Democratic nominee for Prince George’s County executive, attended church with Jealous on Sunday.
Early voting turnout smashed records in Maryland and across the country, though experts say it’s difficult to predict whether that signals greater turnout on Election Day or simply demonstrates heightened popularity of early voting overall.
The answer will be key to whether Jealous’s underfunded and insurgent campaign could topple one of the Maryland’s most popular politicians.
Democrats eager to see a Trump-fueled “blue wave” are counting on infrequent voters to show up in record numbers for Jealous, potentially thwarting the cross-party appeal Hogan has developed with moderates. Roughly a third of Maryland’s Democratic voters have told pollsters they plan to cross party lines to support Hogan.
On Saturday, Hogan thanked Republicans, but made a special point to single out the “Democrats for Hogan” T-shirts in the crowd, saying, “You’re going to put us over the top.”
Jealous supporters are optimistic that first-time and sporadic voters will materialize on Election Day. The Jealous campaign says its goal is to draw 1 million Democratic voters to the polls.
They’re banking on people like Esau Santamaria, 25, of Wheaton, who has never voted before and was pumped up after attending his first political rally in Baltimore County on Saturday with his girlfriend, Irene Bonilla.
Bonilla, a Jealous volunteer, helped Santamaria register earlier this year, and she organized a group to attend the rally.
“She keeps telling me to go vote,” he said, adding that he never thought his vote mattered. He said he left the rally energized and plans to vote Tuesday for Jealous.
Hogan chatted Sunday with voters in a Baltimore County bagel shop and worked the crowds tailgating at the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers football game.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) is among the supporters predicting Jealous will defy the polls. He said he is basing his prediction in part on the “2,000 people” he saw lined up to vote in Silver Spring during early voting.
“When you saw that line . . . I said, ‘We’re going to win, Ben Jealous is going to take this,’ ” Raskin declared as he revved up volunteers before they went out to knock on doors in Montgomery County.
Hogan warned his supporters not to be complacent.
“There’s only one poll that counts, and that’s the one they take next Tuesday,” the governor said. “It matters about who shows up. So I would encourage you to not take anything for granted.”