Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ben Jealous has declined an invitation to appear back-to-back with Gov. Larry Hogan at the summer convention of the Maryland Association of Counties next week.
Michael Sanderson, executive director of MACO, said Wednesday that the organization had extended an invitation to Jealous to appear Aug. 18, the Saturday when the group will conclude its annual gathering in Ocean City. Sanderson said the Jealous campaign cited a scheduling conflict.
“From our perspective, it’ll be a missed opportunity,” Sanderson said.
Jealous spokesman Steve Hershkowitz said the candidate receives many requests and can’t accept them all.
“We worked very hard to accommodate this one, but unfortunately we have other commitments in Western Maryland at that time,” Hershkowitz said.
With Jealous absent, the convention will go back to its usual plan for nonelection years, with the governor giving the closing address Saturday morning before the attendees leave, Sanderson said.
Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said the governor will attend.
“The governor was looking forward to the planned forum and to discussing the issues that matter to Marylanders in front of this important constituency. However he is happy to perform his traditional role of providing a closing address,” she said.
Sanderson said that four years ago Hogan and the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, both appeared on the final morning to speak and answer questions posed by a moderator. The two candidates did not meet face to face, Sanderson said, and the association did not expect Jealous and Hogan to appear jointly this year.
The MACO convention brings together elected officials from Maryland’s 23 counties and Baltimore city, as well as many high-ranking appointees such as department heads. While officially nonpartisan, the event typically draws candidates from around the state, and many use the event as an opportunity to raise money at locations away from the Ocean City Convention Center.
In a MACO news release, the Republican governor called the convention a “time-honored tradition.”
“MACO is [a] true laboratory of common sense, bipartisan solutions, and any serious candidate for statewide office would make addressing its membership a priority,” he said.