The son of Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who shares his father’s name, announced Wednesday that he plans to run for delegate to the Maryland General Assembly from a mid-county district where he recently moved.
At a morning kickoff at Riverdale Park’s Town Center Market, Rushern L. Baker IV (D), an artist who teaches part-time at the University of Maryland, said he was eager to continue his family’s tradition of public service. And, he said, he hoped to become an advocate for the arts.
“Creativity makes our country so successful,” he said. Noting the nearby arts district that runs along Route 1, Baker said his campaign would aim to target economic development in the area, also a goal of his father’s administration.
“For me, the arts isn’t some vague idea. I am a painter and art educator. ... It is something that I am completely passionate about and have dedicated my life to,” he told a crowd of about 50 well-wishers, including several aides to his father, who began his political career in Maryland as a delegate to the General Assembly.
Baker, 26, said he moved last year to District 22, which includes parts of Glenarden, Greenbelt, Hyattsville and New Carrollton, among other communities. He said he changed his voter registration in June from his parents’ home in another district to his residence in Riverdale Park. He also said he had recently cleared up some overdue traffic violations that had resulted in the suspension of his driver’s license.
The race could become a costly and heated contest. Baker IV will go up against three incumbent delegates, and voters are allowed to vote for as many as three candidates in next year’s Democratic primary.
Dels. Anne Healey and Tawanna P. Gaines, both Democrats, are veterans of the General Assembly. Healey, 62, has been in office for 22 years; Gaines, 61, has held her seat for 12 years. Both are longtime supporters of Baker’s father, who said after Wednesday’s kickoff that he would continue to back the two women delegates, but would not back the third incumbent, Alonzo T. Washington, 30.
Washington, a former aide to Prince George’s County Council member Will Campos (D-Hyattsville), was appointed earlier this year by the county’s Democratic Central Committee to replace incumbent Justin Ross, 37, who resigned to become a lobbyist.
“I am focused on my race, and I appreciate the county executive’s opinion and I will continue to support him,” Washington said. His platform, he said, is to ensure that every child receives a quality education, that poverty is eliminated, and that there is quality health care.
“That is what I am hearing residents talk about.”
The district was redrawn after the 2010 Census, adding a chunk of Glenarden that previously was not included and changing the racial composition to add African Americans and subtract whites. Of the three incumbents, Healy is white, and Gaines and Washington are black.
Baker IV, who is black, is likely to benefit from his father’s campaign apparatus, which earlier this week sent out an e-mail to its supporters urging them to support his son.
Baker IV declined to discuss how he planned to finance the campaign, or to release a list of supporters. His father said he thought his son would need to raise and spend $50,000 to $80,000. Delegates are paid $43,500 for the part-time job.
State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks (D) and former delegate Michael Arrington (D), now a lobbyist who has represented gaming interests and the Children’s Museum, among other clients, endorsed Baker IV at Wednesday’s kickoff.
“I am here today because of this young man,” said Alsobrooks, who has forged a political alliance with the county executive. “He is so high-quality, so intelligent, so talented. ... Any time a young person steps up and says ‘I want to serve,’ and it is somebody of this quality, how can we not step up and not support him?” she said.
Carolyn J. B. Howard (D), a delegate from nearby District 24, said she was there to observe but not to endorse.