Former NAACP president Ben Jealous weighs run for Maryland governor

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Former NAACP chief Ben Jealous is "actively weighing" running against popular Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan.

Former NAACP chief Benjamin Jealous is "actively weighing" a campaign to be Maryland's governor.

Jealous said Tuesday that he is in the early stages of contemplating a Democratic challenge to popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, and that he has been recruited since the summer to enter the 2018 election.

Republican President Donald J. Trump's election in November prompted Jealous to take the urging more seriously, he said, though he has yet to hire a staff.

"I love our state, and we are living through a historic moment that calls on each of us to ask what more we can do," Jealous said in an interview. "I would never do it unless there was a clear path" to victory.

Democrats have yet to coalesce around a candidate to challenge Hogan, who has high approval ratings, even among likely Democratic voters.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz have said they are considering joining the race. U.S. Rep. John Delaney and Baltimore Del. Maggie McIntosh are also believed to be considering a run against Hogan.

Jealous, now 44, rose to national prominence in 2009 as the youngest president and CEO of the NAACP. He is widely credited with rejuvenating the storied civil rights organization. He also played a crucial role in helping Maryland repeal the death penalty.

He resigned from the NAACP in 2013 and then joined a venture capital firm, Kapor Capital, that funds tech startups that work on social justice topics.

He is a former journalist and community organizer who, like Hogan before his 2014 election, has spent a career close to politics but has never held elected office.

Jealous considered bids for U.S. Senate to replace Barbara Mikulski and to succeed then-Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, but both times decided against running.

Jealous said Tuesday that the consideration for governor is different because he's weighing a campaign earlier in the cycle and feels a stronger calling in light of Trump's administration.

He joined Kamenetz and Baker in Annapolis on Tuesday for a news conference that was called to criticize a program backed by Hogan that pays for scholarships at private schools. They said the program diverted resources from ailing public schools.

Jealous also joined a rally in Annapolis on Monday night to support bills friendly to immigrants.

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