Click here to view the AFRO 2010 Endorsements for selected Congressional, State-wide, and County races.

Probably the most important race in Maryland this election is the governorship. With the national – and the state’s – economy continuing to lag, never before has there been a greater need for strong leadership with vision and sensitivity.

It is for this reason the AFRO American Newspapers endorses Gov. Martin O’Malley.

With the national economy struggling to recover from the devastation that has crippled many state governments, Gov. O’Malley demonstrated leadership during his first term in office that resulted in Maryland holding its own. Because during his first year O’Malley had the foresight to make an unpopular move (at that time) – calling a special legislative session to address the state’s structural deficit – Maryland weathered the recession better than most states. It is one of only eight states maintaining a triple-A bond rating and is reported as one of only three states that will grow their economy this year. Maryland also has an unemployment rate below the national average and twice the national rate of job creation. Plus with this week’s announcement of an agreement being reached between Constellation Energy Group and EDF on the development of the Calvert Cliffs 3 project, reportedly thousands of jobs will now be created.

To help more Maryland students go to college, he’s frozen college tuition at state schools for the last four years and increased operating and capital funding to historically Black colleges and universities by 37 percent.

In spite of the commendable accomplishments, we would nevertheless like to see Gov. O’Malley take a more aggressive stand against the duplication of higher education programs in the historically Black colleges and universities, which started during the Ehrlich governorship. A large percentage of our community relies on HBCUs as the sole source for its higher education. We believe the continued allowance of the existing duplication places HBCUs at a substantial disadvantage – indeed jeopardizes the future educational opportunities of our children.

When considering former Gov. Ehrlich’s candidacy, we are not convinced that the same level of sensitivity exists with respect to the issues important to the Black community. When we looked at the successes Ehrlich offers to demonstrate his commitment to the African-American community – appointments and HBCU capital funding – these are commendable, but we view them as merely cosmetic actions in comparison to some of the more important issues – jobs, graduation rates, etc – currently facing our community. And while we do not judge him only by the party he chooses to represent, we cannot ignore it, despite his requests to be judged solely on his actions. While departing from the Republican script on some issues, he has not convinced us he is really different from the party he has always chosen to be associated with.

The Black community is entitled to more than just a prospective “trust me” pitch in return for its vote. We believe our votes should be cast for candidates whose demonstrated past actions best address the important needs of our community.

While O’Malley is not perfect – he needs to take more responsibility for how damaging his zero-tolerance program was to the Black community when he was Baltimore’s mayor – his actions as governor convincingly demonstrate he is the better of the two candidates. For the reasons outlined, we encourage everyone to participate in the election and to cast your ballot for the team of O’Malley/Brown.

Click here for the full AFRO 2010 Election Coverage.