Leggett Picks Mentee Baker in Maryland Governor Race

by: James Wright Special to the AFRO jwright@afro.com
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In his quest to be the next governor of Maryland, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III picked up an important and very familiar endorsement.

On Jan.23, Baker received the endorsement of Montgomery County, Md., County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) on the campus of the Howard University School of Law in the District of Columbia. Both men are graduates of Howard’s law school, with Leggett serving as a dean of the institution and Baker as a student in the mid-1980s.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, right, has been endorsed for governor by Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. (Courtesy photo)

“Today, after seven years of his leadership and innovation, property values are on the rise, crime has been cut in half near all-time lows and his county is among the growth leaders in the D.C. region and the state of Maryland,” Leggett said at the endorsement news conference according to the Washington Post.

Leggett and Baker have served as county executives of their respective jurisdictions since 2006 and 2010, respectively. They have worked together on projects such as the Purple Line and school construction and both endorsed Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) for senator in 2016 against Rep. Donna Edwards (D) in a move that was controversial for both in the state’s Black community.

In 2002, Leggett was widely touted as a possible running mate as lieutenant governor with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend as the Democrat’s gubernatorial candidate. Townsend chose Admiral Charles Larson and lost the race to Robert Ehrlich (R).

Leggett is a former chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party.

Both African-American men are the leaders of the two of the biggest population centers of the state.

Baker often tells a story about the time he was in law school and needed more time to study for a property law exam because of outside employment. So the young Baker went to Leggett to request another time to take the exam and Leggett said no.

Baker said that he took and passed the exam, anyway.

In the June 26 Democratic primary, Baker is facing former NAACP President Ben Jealous, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Maryland State Sen. Richard Madaleno (D-District 18) of Montgomery County, Baltimore attorney Jim Shea, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross and Krishanti Vignarajah, an adviser for former first lady Michelle Obama. In the Jan. 10 edition of the {Baltimore Sun}, a poll conducted by Gonzalez Research & Marketing Strategies from Dec. 27-Jan. 5 showed Baker leading for the nomination with 24 percent, followed by Kamenetz and Jealous tied at 14 percent and the others in the single digits.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the Nov. 6 general election.

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