There used to be a time when everyone on the Democratic Central Committee would rubberstamp the wishes of county party leaders who were marching to orders given by peers and powerbrokers in Annapolis, Md. All they had to do was trot in a local senator or two, make a few calls and do a few favors for the 32-members on the committee, and their wishes would become the committee’s command.
Bruce Branch, founder and president of Branch Communications. (Courtesy Photo)
If anything the selection of Jazzy Lewis to succeed Michael Vaughn, shows that is not so anymore. Vaughn resigned as the delegate for District 24 in the midst of rumors he was involved in “Liquorgate” – the latest county scandal involving public officials.
With an overflow crowd looking on, Lewis, the obvious choice of the political establishment and an aide to Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.) made an impressive presentation to the panel of members. However, some behind the scene maneuvering led to the withdrawal of the other candidates – Darrell Miller and Latosha Ward.
Young Democrats President Maurice Simpson finished a respectable second. Despite the fact that Simpson said all the right things following the selection of Lewis, through social media networks and friends he has shared plans to challenge his former classmate for his seat in Annapolis in 2018.
Earlier, party leaders were rebuffed when Del. Darryl Barnes (District 25) stood his ground and appeared ready to become the successor to Sen. Ulysses Currie, who planned to retire and turn the seat over to his wife, only to rescind his resignation when it appeared Barnes had enough support to become the nominee. In another major decision before that many members of the committee threw their support in the U.S. Senate race behind Congresswoman Donna Edwards, who was challenging the golden boy of the party, Chris Van Hollen, who eventually won thanks to support from a host of county officials.
Sean Wilson, a popular political operative in the county who has worked for several candidates and is a member of the Young Dems, said a troubling pattern is emerging in the county where the best candidates are not being selected by the people, but instead by the powers that be.
“There has been a pattern of Senator Benson not supporting the best candidates for the people of the 24th District,” Wilson wrote in an open letter to the public he posted on his Facebook page. “That’s why it bothers me that a majority of the Prince George’s Democratic Central Committee members would only vote for the candidate of the senators’ choosing. Jazz was appointed to the Central Committee; he was never elected nor has he ever run for elected office. The delegate seat was just handed to him and he didn’t work to rightfully deserve the seat. Maurice Simpson Jr. ran for political office, but also was working to make serving the citizens of the 24th district reality.
A response to the AFRO’s inquiry about Wilson’s post was not received before press time.
Community activist Lisa Ellis said: “While there is nothing against Jazz himself as an individual, his appointment is further indication of the deep control of the political machine rather than the people’s choice.”
Earl O’Neal, another community activist, agreed: “If he is going to be rubber stamp for the party, it was a bad choice,” Neal said. “Decisions like this is why we have (Larry) Hogan as governor. Things have to change or things are going to stay the same.”