Is Maryland ready to ride the blue wave?

By Len Lazarick

Former Vice President Joe Biden, looking fit, trim and gearing up for a possible run in 2020, headlined a Democratic Party #BlueWave Unity Celebration at the Camden Yards warehouse in Baltimore hosted by the Angelos Family Saturday evening.

Biden, the former long-time senator from neighboring Delaware with long ties to Baltimore, emphasized all the ways that President Trump has been bad for the country. The other speakers emphasized how Republican Gov. Larry Hogan has been bad for Maryland.

About 250 people attended the event which raised $150,000, according to the Maryland Democratic Party, principally from major sponsors: AFSCME, the Angelos Family, Stewart and Sandra Bainum, BGE, Comcast and other unions.

That begins to fill some of the Democrats’ fundraising hole compared to Hogan’s $9 million campaign stockpile. Ben Jealous, the party’s new nominee for governor, suggested Hogan’s edge won’t last.

“We have the message, we have the organization, and while Hogan has the money right now, something tells me we’re going to find that too,” Jealous said. By the end of the primary campaign, Jealous had outraised his six major opponents with an influx of out-of-state money.

National Democratic Party Chairman Tom Perez, a former Montgomery County Council member who was President Obama’s Labor Secretary, also promised help from the national party. Democrats are anxious to reclaim some of the governor seats lost in the last decade, leaving them in control of only 16 of the 50 states.

Perez wasn’t officially on the program but loudly sounded the rally’s constant themes: Hogan is bad for Maryland and won’t stand up to Trump; Ben Jealous will turn things around in education, jobs and help for working families.

“Thank God Larry Hogan wasn’t around when they built the Fort McHenry tunnel, because he wouldn’t have built it,” Perez said, due to a lack of vision. It was an unusual charge since Democrats constantly complain that Hogan favors funding roads and highways over mass transit.

Perez lambasted the “debacle” in which the state Motor Vehicle Administration failed to send the State Board of Elections address changes for over 90,000 voters, causing many to use provisional ballots.

“Across the country, Republicans are trying to make it harder for people to vote,” Perez said. There were only two explanations for the apparent computer programming error, “They were either incompetent or they were sinister, and both those explanations are terrible.”

Jealous effusively thanked his opponents, particularly the late Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who died of a heart attack May 10.

Jealous promised a campaign that hearkens back to the 2010 victory of Gov. Martin O’Malley over former Gov. Bob Ehrlich in a comeback bid. Jealous’s running mate Susie Turnbull was chair of the state party at the time and his campaign manager, Travis Tazelaar, was executive director of the state party back then.

“We’re going to fight for every vote in every county in every corner of this state,” Jealous promised.