By Hamil R. Harris, Special to the AFRO

It is the bell lap of the Maryland Governor’s race and Democrat Ben Jealous is working hard to mobilize college students and young adult voters in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties in hopes of proving the pollsters and pundits wrong next Tuesday and upset incumbent Larry Hogan in the general election.

Even though Hogan leads Jealous by 20 points in the latest Goucher poll 54 percent to 30 percent, Jealous recently tweeted. “They were wrong in 2014. They were wrong in 2016 and then there’s the fact that we lost every poll in the primary and then we won by 10 points.”

Ben Jealous is running on the Democratic ticket for Maryland Governor. (Courtesy Photo)

Jealous is now in a political sprint that has him trolling the state in search of voters and part of his effort was to get people to vote early. Jealous is hoping to surf a blue wave of Democratic contenders in races across the country, seeking to use political discontent against President Donald Trump to win.

Walla Blegay, a lawyer and Democratic activist working for Jealous, said that the number of people who voted early encourages her.  “We have seen double digits turn-out with early voting because young people are taking over and want something different. For example on Day 2 of early voting in 2014 38,000 people voted, in 2018 more than 82,000 people voted on day 2.”

Baltimore and Prince George’s County are critical for any chance for Jealous to win and this is why Hogan has dispatched his Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford to make the rounds and do interviews on radio outlets like WHUR last week. During the program Rutherford explained his and Hogan’s Republican credentials, while distancing themselves from President Trump.

“Folks in Maryland see a difference.  We are not career politicians, we are just regular folks,” Rutherford said during an interview with host Harold Fisher.

As opposed to talking about Trump, Rutherford said on air,  “We are much more fiscal conservatives rather than getting caught up with social issues that divide people. I don’t get caught up in the reindeer games.”

With a powerful war chest, Hogan and Rutherford have used television advertisement and media interviews to get a lot of their messaging out.  Even though Jealous appears to have limited resources, veteran political reporter Charles Robinson said that Jealous could have done more to get his message out and this could ultimate cost him the election.

“People are running the wrong campaign for the wrong era,” Robinson said in an interview. “For example if you don’t have enough money why isn’t your social media presence stronger. Where are the viral videos, where are the young people who could energize your campaign.”

“I went to two churches (on a recent Sunday) and one was during a woman’s day program and I saw Delegate Adrienne Jones, Speaker Pro-tem in the Maryland House and I said, ‘Tell me that Ben Jealous is going to churches on Sunday.’ That is the same thing that Anthony Brown did, (who lost to Hogan four years ago).  He didn’t feel like he needed to go to church.”

While Hogan is being endorsed by a group of veteran ministers, Jealous recently unveiled his team of ministers. Last week Jealous was endorsed by  the Black Church PAC,  a group of  30 progressive organizations  and individuals “committed to affordable healthcare and fully funding education.”

“I’m proud to receive this endorsement from the Black Church PAC,” said Jealous in a statement.  “As President of the NAACP, I worked closely with Black churches and institutions to protect and promote the right to vote… As governor, I look forward to working with them to expand voting rights and end gun violence in our state as well as enacting comprehensive criminal justice reform.”

“These candidates we are endorsing best represent our values and aligned with our righteous platform to reduce gun violence, end mass criminalization and protect our right to vote,” Pastor Michael McBride said, speaking for Black Church PAC.

On Monday Jealous emphasized at his appearance at Bowie State University and tweeted, that it is important that people know where and how they should vote. “As we head into the final stretch of the campaign, make sure that you are ready to make your voice heard! Find your polling place at “iwillvote.com.”