Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous speaks at a news conference alongside his running mate, Susie Turnbull, right, in Baltimore. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Maryland Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous on Friday pledged, if elected, to appoint women to at least 50 percent of the positions in his cabinet, and he criticized Gov. Larry Hogan (R) for having a cabinet that does not reflect the state’s diversity.

“I’m fully committed to making sure that my cabinet is at least half women and it reflects the racial diversity of the state and the faith diversity of the state,” Jealous said at an event in Baltimore promoting his plan to close the gender pay gap and to increase the number of female-owned businesses.

Six women are in Hogan’s 23-member cabinet.

“Hogan is not in touch with the fullness of Maryland,” Jealous said.

Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Hogan, said the governor “is proud of his record of appointing individuals to important positions across state government that are diverse,” pointing out that of the nearly 5,000 appointments the governor has made, 44 percent are women and nearly 30 percent are minorities.

“The Hogan administration is one where Marylanders of all races, genders, political beliefs and walks of life are heard and respected,” Chasse said.


Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), left, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous. (Pete Marovich for The Post and AP)

Jealous’s pledge came on the day that a political action committee launched an effort to aid his uphill battle against Hogan, which includes a $175,000 ad campaign attacking the governor’s record on education.

Maryland Together We Rise, which is largely financed by unions and wealthy individual donors, said it plans to spend $1 million on the governor’s race.

The ad, to be run on broadcast and cable stations in the Baltimore market, is one of the first attempts by Jealous’s supporters to counter a multimillion-dollar advertising blitz by Hogan and the Republican Governors Association. Since early July, the Hogan campaign and the RGA have saturated the airwaves with messages promoting Hogan’s record and trying to define Jealous as a tax-and-spend Democrat.

Jealous released his first ad of the general election campaign this week, a 60-second spot that introduces the political newcomer to voters as a former president of the NAACP and a venture capitalist. The ad is running in the Baltimore area but not in the more-populous and expensive Washington suburbs.

The super PAC ad tries to tie Hogan to President Trump’s education policies, saying: “President Trump and Betsy DeVos are already hurting Maryland public schools, and Governor Hogan’s cuts are making it even worse, and now we’re told DeVos and Governor Hogan have similar views.”

Hogan, who, like DeVos, supports public charter schools and allowing tax dollars to be used for private school tuition, has provided record funding to public schools on the basis of required funding formulas. But early on, he cut $68 million from a program that gives more money to school systems that have higher costs.

Doug Mayer, deputy campaign manager for Hogan, described the anti-Hogan super PAC ad as a “desperate” move by Jealous supporters “to try and bail him out with lies and misrepresentations.”

According to a recent Goucher College poll, Jealous is lagging far behind Hogan, whose robust fundraising over the past four years has left him with $9 million in his campaign account. Jealous had less than $400,000 at the last reporting deadline.

The Jealous campaign has played down the poll results, saying Goucher underestimated the voter turnout expected this year. At the same time, senior adviser Kevin Harris touted findings that voters support Jealous’s proposals to boost education funding and increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

On Friday, Jealous was joined by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in Baltimore, where she announced her support for his campaign, especially his proposals to help working and middle-class families. She described him as “a voice for the voiceless.”

Jealous also received the endorsement this week of Julián Castro, who served as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama.

Hogan picked up two local labor endorsements, from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Locals 2563 and 582 in Anne Arundel County. The same union’s state organization is backing Jealous.

Meanwhile, Hogan is facing a legal challenge from the Maryland State Education Association — which backs Jealous — over a bumper sticker that displays an apple logo with the words “Teachers for Hogan.”

The union, which represents 80,000 educators, has used an apple logo for political endorsements and activities for decades. Union officials said the governor’s use of the apple is an attempt to confuse voters about his relationship with the teachers union.

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge on Friday denied the union’s request for a temporary restraining order, but the case continues. Attorneys for both sides are expected back in court next Friday on the request for a preliminary injunction.