Barack Obama

President Obama with Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown during a campaign rally at Wise High School.

“Forward Not Back! Forward Not Back! Forward Not Back!” Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) implored the crowd of over 9,000 as they waited Oct. 19 to hear words from President Barack Obama in support of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Democratic candidate for governor. The response from the crowd was defining as the campaign slogan rippled through an audience of black, white, young, and old.

Crowds lined up as early as 11 a.m. for Sunday’s afternoon event at Wise High School in Upper Marlboro. The high school’s gym was at capacity by 2 p.m. Hundreds of attendees were turned away.

“I know it’s hard to be at school on a Sunday,” Obama joked to the audience. “But we are here for a good reason. We are here to support a man who has not just spent his career fighting for you, but his entire life fighting for you.”

The rally was led by several Maryland heavy hitters and high-profile political players, including  Howard County Executive Ken Ulman,  Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.

The event was held four days before the beginning of Maryland’s early voting period on Oct. 23, with the purpose of sparking state-wide interest. Low voter turn-out remains to be an issue among all political parties rolling into the November elections.

“Only one in four Marylanders cast their ballot on June 24,” Brown told the audience, referring to the summer primary. “We don’t have to relive what happened in the 1950s and ‘60s to understand the importance of exercising our most sacred right to vote.”

Democrats from across the state traveled to the event, including Roxanne Prettyman, member of the Democratic State Central Committee, Baltimore City.

“I came from Baltimore, because I believe Anthony Brown is the best candidate for governor,” Prettyman told the AFRO Oct. 19. “My daughter is a Head Start teacher. I believe in Head Start and Pre-K. Brown believes in this as well.”

News reports show that less than a month before the general elections, Brown holds only a nine-point lead over Republican challenger Larry Hogan.  A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll shows Brown with 47 percent, Hogan with 38 percent, and 11 percent of likely voters, undecided.

Though Maryland is deemed a progressive state, Democratic worry about the upcoming elections abounds. “The defining issue and challenge of our time is making sure that our economy works for every person in this country,” Obama told the crowd. “Republicans don’t care about that. Republicans don’t care about what you care about, but what they do is vote.”

Cummings summed the event up best before walking off the stage. After taking a selfie for social media with O’Malley, he told the audience, “When they ask about where we were when Anthony Brown needed us, we need to say we were there. Go out and get Loddy, Doddy, and everybody, because we have got to go out and vote!”