Republican Gov. Larry Hogan collected the endorsement of the Professional Firefighters of Maryland Monday, denying Ben Jealous the support of a labor group that backed Democratic nominee Anthony G. Brown in 2014.
Hogan accepted the group’s support at a news conference outside the State House, surrounded by dozens of firefighters in yellow and black T-shirts. The professional firefighters’ group is the umbrella organization for Maryland affiliates of the International Association of Fire Fighters, an AFL-CIO union.
“Over the last four years, you have had your back and I have had your back,” Hogan told the group. He highlighted his support for his Hometown Heroes Act that gives first responders a partial exemption of retirement pay on their income taxes.
“We’re not done yet. We won’t stop until we exempt 100 percent of your retirement income,” he told the group.
Union officials said they could not remember a time when the group had endorsed a Republican for governor. Andrew Pantelis, district vice president for the firefighters international union, said the endorsement will likely involve campaign donations, independent expenditures backing Hogan and “boots on the ground” during the campaign and on Election Day.
The firefighters union is the third labor organization that backed Brown in 2014 but switched to Hogan this year.
Last week the State Law Enforcement Officers Labor Alliance endorsed the Republican over Jealous. Before the June 26 primary, the United Association, representing plumbers, welders and other members of the skilled trades, backed Hogan for re-election.
Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Jealous, said the Democratic nominee has the support of three or four times as many labor unions as Hogan. Among others, Jealous has won the support of unions representing teachers, nurses, communications workers, grocery store workers, transit drivers and hospital and hotel employees.