Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker announced that he would run for Maryland governor on June 21.

Rushern Baker officially announced June 21 that he would run for Maryland governor.

Baker, who made the election announcement in a campaign video from his home, joins a crowded field that currently includes Rep. John Delaney, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, State Sen. Richard Madaleno, Jr., former NAACP President Ben Jealous, businessman Alec Ross and former Maryland State’s Attorney Doug Gansler, who hinted recently, he may not run this election cycle.

Each of the Democrats are seeking to replace Gov.Larry Hogan, who is highly popular and trying to become the first Republican governor to win reelection in 60 years.

Baker and Jealous are attempting to do what former Lt. Gov. and current U.S. Congressman Anthony Brown could not and that is become the first Black person to lead the state.

Baker, who recently showed well in an Anne Arundel poll and had a planned stop in Baltimore shortly after the announcement went public, is expected to run on a platform centered around education and economic development.

He has received mixed reviews on his performance in the county where he replaced the scandal-filled administration of Jack Johnson when he first took office in 2010 following two losses in the county executive race.

While he received kudos for bringing MGM to the county and for perceived improvements in the school system, many of his critics, particularly in the minority contracting community say Baker has not been a strong enough advocate for jobs and contracts. His handpicked choice for School Superintendent Dr. Kevin Maxwell has been under constant fire for a series of events that has cast a negative eye on the county and school system. Yet, Baker, who has more than 25 years of public service under his belt,  said he believes he is the best choice for governor.

“We can’t wait for change,” said Baker, who was surrounded by family in the video that was distributed to media outlets and on social media. “We’ve got to make it happen. It’s time to build a Maryland that leaves no one behind.”

Baker said he believes he can make a difference on issues that are important to state residents.

“Marylanders work hard for their money and deserve a governor who’ll make it easier for them to afford healthcare, provide for their families, plan for the future, and have great public schools,” he said in the video. “They deserve a governor that supports paid sick leave, makes Maryland a leader in innovation and economic growth and stands up for the rights of all of us.”

The Baker announcement is the latest in the political chips that are beginning to fall as the 2018 race begins to take shape.

The first salvo was fired by District 25 Del. Darryl Barnes who changed his mind about running for the Maryland State Senate seat that is expected to be vacated by Ulysses Currie.

Citing the need for unity and the opportunity to do some great things, Barnes surprised the political pundits by announcing June 14 at his annual fundraiser that he would not seek the State Senate seat vacated by Currie, but instead would run for re-election for a second term in the House of Delegates, which is where he has become a powerful voice for Prince George’s County and the vice chair of the Maryland Black Caucus. Speaking before a packed room of supporters at the Doubletree Hotel in Largo, Md.,  Barnes said he had did a lot of soul searching before coming to the conclusion that staying in the House was “the right thing to do” at this time in his political career.

Barnes’ decision clears a path for former Del. Melony Griffith, who has garnered the support of a long list of elected officials, from the county including Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Sen.  Joanne Benson (D-24), County Executive Rushern T. Baker III and Del. Dereck Davis.

“I truly believe this is the year of the woman,” Barnes said in reference to Griffith. “We have an opportunity to do some great things together.” Griffith is expected to be challenged by Del. Angela Angel, who received the most votes in her race in 2014 and will go into the race as the anti-establishment candidate who also will draw upon strong union support.