Madaleno chooses ex-Martin O'Malley aide as running mate in Democratic primary race

Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr., a Democratic candidate for governor, plans to announce Monday that he has chosen Luwanda Jenkins, a former aide to Gov. Martin O’Malley, as his running mate.

Jenkins, 55, who was raised and attended public schools in Baltimore, brings geographical diversity but not widespread name recognition to the Madaleno campaign. The Montgomery County lawmaker is competing with six other candidates for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in November.

“Luwanda has an incredible resume of executive experience at the state government level and an economic development expertise across the state of Maryland,” said Madaleno, 52.

Madaleno said the first qualification he sought in a candidate for lieutenant governor was the ability and experience to take over the top job if necessary. He said he does not see Jenkins’ lack of experience in elected office as a liability.

In addition to state government work under O’Malley, Govs. William Donald Schaefer and Parris N. Glendening, Jenkins has ties to Baltimore’s business community. Her most recent position was chief operating officer for the Greater Baltimore Committee’s LEADERship program.

She has also worked in community relations for The Baltimore Sun.

Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, said Madaleno was polling in single digits in her last survey in September. She said having a running mate without electoral experience shouldn’t be a liability for a lawmaker viewed as a progressive leader in the General Assembly since 2003.

“He doesn’t need anybody to round out his progressive policy experience,” Kromer said. She said Jenkins could help Madaleno connect to Baltimore voters, particularly African-American women who are reliable supporters in Democratic primaries.

Madaleno and Jenkins said they both consider themselves proteges of the late Del. Howard P. “Pete” Rawlings, the Baltimore Democrat who chaired the House Appropriations Committee until his death in 2003. Both are alumni of the Rawlings Public Sector Leadership Program at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Jenkins, a native Baltimorean, grew up in Forest Park in Northwest Baltimore and graduated from Western High School. She received her undergraduate degree from what was then Towson State University and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins.

A married mother of two, Jenkins has nearly a decade of experience at high levels in state government. She was director of the Office of Minority Affairs under Govs. William Donald Schaefer and Parris N. Glendening and special secretary of minority affairs for O’Malley.

She worked for The Sun as a community relations manager from 1996 to 2002 and, more recently, the Cordish Cos.

Nancy S. Grasmick, Maryland’s former superintendent of schools, has known Jenkins through state government. She said she would likely be a good match for Madaleno.

“She is a very talented woman and she’s been very committed to equality and issues of diversity,” Grasmick said. “In this state, that is a very important thing.”

Jenkins said she’s prepared to support Madaleno in his relentless push to tie Hogan to President Donald J. Trump.

“The things that he’s doing in state government are very much in line with what we’re seeing at the national level and it’s time for a change,” Jenkins said.

mdresser@baltsun.com

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