Carroll County Times
Carroll County Times Opinion

Kennedy: Early Democratic candidates for governor have steep hill to climb

The list of potential challengers to Larry Hogan for the governor's seat in the 2018 election seems to be growing by leaps and bounds almost weekly, and from my viewpoint none of those who have declared are of sufficient timber to unseat the very popular incumbent.

The latest entrant in the race is Krishanti Vignarajah, a resident of Gaithersburg in Montgomery County. She is an Ivy League-educated lawyer who was a policy director for former first lady Michelle Obama. She has laid out a progressive and aggressive agenda of generally very popular items for the voters to consider. The question of whether she qualifies as a resident under the rules in the state constitution is an important consideration at this point. It seems that she was registered and voted in D.C. as well as being registered in Maryland during her time at the White House. That could be a major stumbling block.


The most familiar to me is Kevin Kamenetz, the current county executive of Baltimore County. At this point he isn't overwhelmingly popular in his own county over decisions on school construction and repairs, double dipping on county pensions and more, so garnering support from the far reaches of the state could be a problem as is his misstep around the email that encouraged county employees to attend his announcement press conference.

Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and state Sen. Richard Madaleno may be well known in their locales, but they, too, will have a tough job getting recognized around the state. As well, they haven't publicized very well their hopes and dreams for their terms, if elected.


Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP may have a recognizable name, which is a plus that most of the others don't have, but his association with the NAACP could be a negative to some. He, too, has not put forth his policies and agenda.

Alec Ross and Jim Shea, the former an author and tech entrepreneur, and the latter a lawyer and former chairman at the Venable firm, are completely unknown entities outside of their close circle of friends, associates and supporters. These two, at this point, have the highest hill to climb to become considered as serious candidates.

As one who has to pick one of these in the primary, it disturbs me some that all are either from the D.C. suburbs or the Baltimore region. Isn't there a relatively well known Democrat from the Eastern Shore, Southern, or Western Maryland who could get enough support to at least mount a serious challenge to this group and to the incumbent?

To be honest, I'll probably vote to keep Hogan in the Government House if these are the choices for the primary. The governor has done well, in my humble opinion, and except for the cancellation of the Red Line transit proposal, which had federal financial support promised, I've agreed with the direction of his administration. He gets an "atta boy" from me.

All Democrats in the state need to examine these candidates, and any others who may decide to throw their hats into the ring as the primary nears. If the party has any hope of recapturing the governor's seat they'll need a strong and positive campaign. Trying to tie the present governor to the generally unpopular president won't get them many votes as I see it since Mr. Hogan distances himself from Mr. Trump and Congress whenever they propose things that are not in the best interest of our fair state and its citizens.

The silly season is just beginning and won't be over until June. Hold on to your hats, it's going to be a wild ride. Then we're in for more during the campaign for the general election. Keep smiling; it only confuses your enemies.

Bill Kennedy writes every other Monday from Taneytown. Email him at