State Sen. C. Anthony Muse’s bid to unseat Ben Cardin for his U.S. Senate seat has been eventful so far and continues to be so after the Baltimore-based Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance’s (IMA) endorsed Cardin.
In Facebook posts and tweets that have since been taken down, Muse’s team linked to a blog post – also sent to the AFRO by Muse supporters without solicitation – criticizing Black faith-based leaders for backing Cardin. The post was written by Jamye Wooten who runs the Kinetics Faith & Justice Network. Wooten called this an “historic” opportunity in January, but his words in his post were much sharper.
“Now I am not suggesting that you should endorse a candidate simply because they are African-American,” Wooten said. “Baltimore is filled with Black politicians that I would never support. But when someone emerges as capable and competent and most of all an advocate for the people it is shameful to have a few Black clergy to allow themselves to be divided and conquered.”
Wooten said this practice doesn’t happen often within other faiths or cultural groups.
“Let’s be clear. You will not see any group of Jewish Rabbis holding a press conference or inviting African-American candidates to the synagogue for their endorsement when a Jewish candidate is their opponent,” he continued. “Only Black preachers allow themselves to be divided and conquered.”
Cardin has shown a willingness throughout his time in office to reach out to the Black clergy locally. Last year, along with the White House office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, held a forum at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden to discuss ways in which the church can aid local residents in improving economic empowerment.
“Senator Ben Cardin has proven himself to be a leader who is capable of making the right decisions that will positively impact the future of our nation,” the Rev. Alvin Gwynn Sr., president of the ministers group and pastor of Baltimore’s Friendship Baptist Church, said in a statement reported by the Baltimore Sun. “He fully understands and he is compassionate towards the needs of the people whom he has been called to serve.”
This controversy is the latest item in Muse’s candidacy that, at times, has run contrary to the Democratic establishment in the state.
Muse accused the entire Maryland Democratic Party of endorsing Cardin after Rep. Steny Hoyer, D.-Dist. 5, and Gov. Martin O’Malley publicly supported Cardin at the 14th Annual Democratic Legislative Luncheon last month.
“We have gone from voter suppression to endorsement intimidation,” Muse said. “Those in control assume that if they say let’s go this way then the rest of us must fall in line with their suggestions. That is not democracy.”
Muse has also found it difficult to garner the endorsement of powerful Black politicians as well. Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and President Barack Obama have all endorsed Cardin. Baker’s endorsement may be especially damaging publicly as Muse’s Senate district lies in the heart of Southern Prince George’s.