With a little more than 13 months remaining before the June 2018 Gubernatorial election, some leading Black candidates have not declared their intentions. While former NAACP President Ben Jealous has made it clear he’s planning a serious run for governor, Prince George’s County’s top politicians’ intentions remain shrouded in secret.
For instance, Del. Dereck E. Davis (D-25), first elected in 1994, has an opportunity to become the first Speaker of the House of Delegates should Michael Busch resign or seek office to join the Maryland Board of Public Works. Busch surrogates have quietly been lobbying votes and he has strong support from the Congressional Black Caucus thanks to political ally Darryl Barnes (D-25), who stands to move up in the rankings as well.
The big talk right now centers around the race for county executive where some suggest Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks is a heavy favorite to defeat the only other candidate that appears to be seeking the office, State Sen. C. Anthony Muse. Alsobrooks has had a strong presence at church and community events and is backed by a large cadre of sorority sisters from Delta Sigma Theta. Nevertheless, there is growing sentiment in the grassroots community that opposes her candidacy and are seeking a viable alternative. Alsobrooks also is reportedly being recruited by Democratic Party leaders to join the ticket as one of its leading candidates for governor as a lieutenant governor.
Unofficial polls show the best way to defeat the highly popular Larry Hogan is to get a Black woman from Prince George’s County to run with a highly financed and popular White man. Some say the Democratic Party must decide whether the statehouse or county house is more important for their interests.
While Muse has maintained his strong support among loyal backers, Alsobrooks has built up a war chest of more than $500,000 and reportedly counts among supporters many of the county power brokers from organizations such as the Business Roundtable and the Peterson Group. Muse, to many, remains an outsider and an independent voice, but many voters are skeptical of his ability to win in North County. Others say reports of Muse being defeated by Alsobrooks are just alternative facts by progressive county leaders.
If Muse and Alsobrooks remain in the race together, sources close to former Congresswoman Donna Edwards said she may throw her hat in the ring to keep Alsobrooks from winning. Muse and Edwards have become political allies and that would be a delicate issue for the two to work out, despite polls showing Edwards would defeat Alsobrooks.
Edwards has long maintained that she wanted to remain on the federal level as an elected official and would have to abandon any plan to challenge U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer or U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, who is said to be thinking about retiring.
The Democratic Party, fragmented and hurt in its outreach to African-American voters by its treatment of Edwards and other top candidates, may try to placate Edwards by offering her the top spot in the county to keep her out of any statewide races.
Council Rep. Mary Lehman and Del. Joselyn A. Pena are also said to be eyeing the race. Mel Franklin is a wild card who was running for county executive, but following his arrest for driving under the influence in 2016, it is unclear what he may do as well.