Former NAACP president Ben Jealous will receive a boost in his efforts to win progressive support in his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor Thursday when he receives an endorsement from Bernie Sanders.
The Vermont senator is scheduled to appear with Jealous in Silver Spring at an event organized by the left-leaning group Our Revolution Maryland.
Jealous was a prominent Sanders supporter during the senator's 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. The civil rights leader was a frequent Sanders surrogate on national television news programs during the campaign.
Sanders released a statement on his pending endorsement: "With Ben as governor, we can make health care a right, not a privilege. We can create a minimum wage which is a living wage. We can stop the school-to-prison pipeline and end mass incarceration. We can make college tuition affordable, protect our environment and create good-paying jobs."
Jealous said he was proud to have Sanders' support.
"Bernie understands, as I do, that now is not a time for timidity," Jealous said in a statement. "When a generation of Americans risks being worse off than those before, tied down by the lack of a livable wage, affordable college and access to quality healthcare, then our leadership must reflect the urgency of this moment."
Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher College, said Sanders still has a passionate following among progressive voters active in resisting President Donald J. Trump.
"That Resistance part of the Democratic Party will play a major role in this election cycle." she said.
Kromer added, however, that Sanders' support is likely to have less impact in Maryland than it would in a state he had won.
"Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders in the primary by 29 points," Kromer said. "Bernie Sanders was unable to reach a large cross-section of Maryland Democratic voters in April 2016."
Where Sanders' endorsement could have an impact, Kromer said, is in the primary within a primary between Jealous and state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, who are competing for the progressive wing of the party.
The Montgomery County lawmaker, who is expected to announce his candidacy soon, is a progressive leader in the General Assembly who endorsed Clinton in 2016.
"He's very tapped in to the progressive movement in Maryland," Kromer said.
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Madaleno's endorsement of Clinton isn't necessarily a liability. A Goucher College poll last September showed Clinton with a 74 percent approval rating among Maryland Democrats in a state she won by a landslide.
Besides Jealous, the announced candidates in the race are Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, Baltimore lawyer Jim Shea and high-tech entrepreneur Alec Ross.