Sen. Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution, a national progressive group that formed after the senator’s upstart presidential bid, are scheduled to endorse Ben Jealous in the Maryland governor’s race on Thursday, according to an email sent to Our Revolution supporters in Maryland.
The joint announcement of the endorsement of Jealous, former president of the NAACP, will be made in Silver Spring.
“With Ben as governor, we can make health care a right, not a privilege,” Sanders said in a statement. “We can create a minimum wage which is a living wage. We can stop the school-to-prison pipeline and end mass incarceration. We can make college tuition affordable, protect our environment and create good-paying jobs.”
Backing from Sanders (I-Vt.) and Our Revolution is not a surprise given Jealous’s role in Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign and his former position on the board of Our Revolution. The endorsements will help Jealous, a civil rights leader and political outsider who has never run for political office, raise money and energize liberal voters across the country.
But it remains unclear how much the support will mean to voters in Maryland, where Sanders lost the 2016 Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton by a wide margin, and where Jealous is competing with several other Democrats for the nomination to challenge popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in 2018.
Jealous, who served as the co-chairman of Sanders’s campaign in Maryland, said he and Sanders both believe that “now is not a time for timidity.”
“Our leadership must reflect the urgency of this moment,” Jealous said in a statement. “It’s time for Maryland to get back to doing big things again, but it starts with new leadership.”
Our Revolution is the second national progressive group to throw its support behind Jealous. In May, before Jealous announced his candidacy, Democracy for America said it was ready to mobilize to help him run.
He is competing against Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (Montgomery), Alec Ross, a technology entrepreneur, and lawyer James L. Shea. Baltimore County Executive Kevin B. Kamenetz, former Maryland attorney general Douglas F. Gansler and U.S. Rep. John Delaney have also said they are considering the race.
Most of the other candidates vying for the Democratic nomination backed Clinton in 2016, including Madaleno, a political insider who also pushes a progressive agenda. Baker, a centrist, initially endorsed former governor Martin O’Malley in the presidential primary.
The Washington Post reported last month that the Maryland arm of Our Revolution planned to endorse Jealous, its former state and national board member, without interviewing the other candidates.
At the time, a spokesman for Madaleno compared the group’s endorsement process to the way the Democratic National Committee coalesced around Clinton’s candidacy without regard for Sanders’s surging popularity.
The chairman of Our Revolution Maryland said the group reached out to all declared and potential candidates for information, but Jealous was the only one who responded.