The AFRO sent out questionnaires to candidates in selected state wide races and to candidates in selected district races in Baltimore City, and in Baltimore County. The following are candidates who returned the AFRO Questionnaire and provided, in our opinion, responses that convinced us that they could provide the best service to their constituents. Candidates who failed to return a completed AFRO Questionnaire were not considered for an endorsement. These are the 2014 Maryland Primary candidates the AFRO endorses, and encourages you to support with your vote.
Maryland Congressional Races
3rd District, House of Representatives
Rep. John Sarbanes is the right fit for a district that shouldn’t fit-which is probably why he’s running uncontested in the democratic primaries. Maryland’s Third Congressional District is a hodgepodge of urban and rural neighborhoods in four different counties and Baltimore City, and constituents of varied races and economic backgrounds. In fact, it was named the third least compact congressional district in 2012.
Sarbanes, however, has served his unique district well.
In his time on Capitol Hill, the congressman has consistently demonstrated sensitivity to the needs of the unemployed and the working poor by supporting the extension of unemployment benefits for those still reeling from the recession, supporting universal health care and creating paths to the middle class through education.
Not only has Sarbanes supported efforts to increase access to a college education, but sponsored legislation that rewards public servants for consistent, long-term service by forgiving the remainder of their college debts.
Sarbanes’ campaign to put democracy back into the hands of the American people and fight back against the political monopoly of the rich, his Government By the People Act (H.R. 20), is also worthy of praise.
The AFRO therefore endorses John Sarbanes for the Third Congressional Seat.
7th District, House of Representatives
When Democrats need someone to go to battle on Capitol Hill, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings is their guy. Case in point: He was one of the picks for-and one of the major reasons why they decided to participate in-Republicans’ new select committee to investigate the 2012 attack in Benghazi.
Cummings brings to bear that same scrappiness and willingness to go to the wall in his service to the 7th district constituents, all Marylanders and vulnerable populations across the country.
Cummings has been an outspoken advocate of foreclosure protection, universal health care, job creation and increased access to quality education, among other key issues. He has a good command of a variety of matters, knowledge which guides his decision-making and which he is always willing to share.
Despite his standing in Washington, Cummings remains accessible and down-to-earth and keeps his sight on what are important—people, and that’s reflected in his constituent services.
Given such an exemplary record, the AFRO has no hesitation in endorsing Elijah Cummings for re-election.
We support the election of Anthony Brown as the next governor of the State of Maryland. The O’Malley/Brown administration has achieved a number of important accomplishments since the last gubernatorial election. The elimination of the death penalty, successful passage of minimum wage legislation are but a few of their positive achievements over the past four years. The implementation of the health reform initiative called “The Maryland Health Connection (MHC)” however, has too often overshadowed the O’Malley/Brown team achievements, particularly during the current gubernatorial campaign.
While the state’s implementation of health reform involved an unfortunate number of broken deadlines, confusion, and finger pointing; we cannot ignore the fact that Maryland was not unique in being slammed with health reform implementation problems. The MHC implementation was a massive endeavor for this state and a host of other jurisdictions including the federal government also struggled with implementing their health reform programs like Maryland; so to attempt to place all the blame on one man, candidate Brown in this case is not only unfair, but flat-out wrong!
Furthermore, it is clear that the underlying purpose of the MHC program is to benefit groups of poor, uninsured Maryland citizens including large numbers of Black and Brown minorities. This program is well intentioned and is extremely important to the poor minority communities of our state. Thus, we view the Brown leadership in this effort, though imperfect, to be a positive trait instead of how his opponent has attempted to characterized it—as a complete failure.
One of our biggest concerns about Brown, should he win the election, however, involves how he views and will attempt to impact the continuation of the federal HBCU lawsuit. In October, the judge ruled the State of Maryland acted unconstitutionally by allowing protracted ‘duplication’ of HBCU courses by other higher education institutions in the state violation of the rights of Maryland HBCU students.
“Duplication” is a complex concept. We were not overwhelmed by any of the candidate’s grasp of the impact this practice has had on the education of minorities over the past 40 years. We understand that Brown during his campaign has asserted that he would establish a ‘Blue Ribbon Commission’ to develop a plan for the Maryland HBCUs. We believe that the last thing needed is another study since the judge’s decision in the HBCU lawsuit makes it clear what the state needs to do in order to address its past violations against these HBCUs and their students. Brown should nevertheless, be given the opportunity to assist, as outlined by the lawsuit, in redefining the Maryland HBCUs into becoming better institutions of higher learning with meaningful, competitive, unique, and high-demand curriculums that effectively educate all our students.
Finally, there are far too many Black and Brown inmates in our prisons serving time for non-violent offenses. We believe candidate Brown will be sensitive to promoting innovative measures to address this problem that has for too long been ignored or inadequately addressed. New, innovative measures, such as further decriminalization of marijuana possession, need to be implemented to avoid the continuation of the unfortunate cycle that is ruining the futures of too many young people in our community.
We encourage all of our readers to vote; and for the above reasons, to vote for Anthony Brown for Governor of Maryland.
Unsurprisingly, Comptroller Peter Franchot, again is going unchallenged in the Democratic primary, a testament to his efficacy in office.
When Franchot first ran for comptroller in 2006, he promised to aggressively pursue delinquent taxpayers, reward and empower conscientious Maryland taxpayers and to be an independent voice on the Board of Public Works. He has kept those promises.
Under Franchot, the state has recaptured almost $4 billion in delinquent taxes and $54 million in overdue child support, recovered more than $825 million by closing corporate tax loopholes, and stopped more than $100 million in tax fraud.
He has empowered taxpayers by streamlining the tax reporting and refund collecting process and protected them against unscrupulous tax preparers.
The AFRO was also impressed by Franchot’s recognition to the importance of minority-owned businesses in boosting the economy, including his campaign as vice chairman of the State Pension and Retirement Systems to increase the number of minority-owned investment firms that manage the state’s assets.
For these and other reasons, the AFRO offers its unmitigated endorsement to Peter Franchot.
The attorney general is the chief legal officer for the state. Beneath that broad umbrella, one of the primary duties of the AG’s office is to advocate on behalf of Maryland’s consumers, who in many cases are among the state’s most vulnerable citizens (victims of housing discrimination, predatory payday loans, environmental injustice, fraud, etc). Perhaps, now more than ever, Maryland needs a powerful advocate for the state’s disenfranchised, people of color, and poor people and for this reason the AFRO endorses the candidacy of Prince George’s County delegate and attorney Aisha Braveboy.
As the AFRO reported in April, Maryland has had the second highest foreclosure rate in the nation for the fourth quarter of 2013 and the numbers continue to rise according to the Baltimore Neighborhood Indicators Alliance.
As chair of the Consumer Protection and Commercial Law Subcommittee and chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, Braveboy has demonstrated leadership on the catastrophic foreclosure crises. She has co-sponsored bills that offer relief and protection for homeowners facing foreclosure and has worked as a pro-bono attorney providing vital legal services for families grappling with the loss of a home. Braveboy has also worked on legislation holding some banks and mortgage companies accountable for not maintaining foreclosed properties they own, which drives down property values in many neighborhoods of color.
Braveboy has been out in front on the issue of mass incarceration in the state, a practice that has disproportionately ravaged (often unjustly) communities of color and the impoverished. For several years, she volunteered as legal counsel for a Prince George’s County-based community diversion program that touts an 87 percent success rate. Diversion programs are community-based justice programs that give non-violent offenders a chance to avoid prosecution and jail, the stigma of a criminal record and save taxpayers millions of dollars. She believes that instead of allocating resources on the back end to incarcerate minor offenders, we should invest a fraction of those dollars up front to rehabilitate and divert them away from the criminal justice system.
The AFRO has consistently reported on the ongoing litigation between the state and its four historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) for almost a decade. We are encouraged that Braveboy has been a forceful advocate in the General Assembly for parity and proper funding of those schools. Last month during the first attorney general debate, Braveboy was the only candidate who specifically rejected Maryland’s position on the October 2013 ruling of District Court Judge Catherine Blake, which found the state in violation of the U.S. Constitution for operating a system of higher education, still rooted in segregation.
“Fifty years outside of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 60 years outside of Brown, and the state has violated precedent in both of those. So, it’s really an embarrassment for the state and we just need to mediate a fair remedy so we can move on,” Braveboy said.
We acknowledge Braveboy lacks the experience of Sen. Brian Frosh, the formidable veteran litigator and legislator and the name recognition of Del. Jon Cardin who both seek to replace current Attorney General Douglas Gansler, who is running for governor.
But, we believe Braveboy’s energy, strong work ethic, and strong commitment to this state’s disenfranchised communities—who need a zealous advocate in the Attorney General’s office—are attributes that will serve all the citizens of Maryland.
Marilyn Mosby, who comes from a family of law enforcement officers, says she was transformed by the tragedy of her 14-year-old cousin—a young man of great promise—being gunned down just outside the front door of her home in Boston when she was a teenager.
Now, decades removed from the dreadful day, Mosby touts an 80 percent overall conviction rate as a hard-nosed former prosecutor in Baltimore’s State’s Attorney’s office under former state’s attorney Patricia Jessamy and current state’s attorney Gregg Bernstein. Mosby says Bernstein has failed miserably and she wants his job.
She has leveled a withering attack upon her former boss who took office in 2010; accusing him of apathy, incompetence and statistics padding, among other things.
Specifically, Mosby argues Bernstein’s gross mishandling of two disturbing cases is evidence of his ineptitude; the cases of alleged serial rapist Nelson Clifford, and alleged murderer Capone Chase.
Clifford, a registered sex offender, allegedly raped five women at knifepoint and left DNA evidence at all five crime scenes. Bernstein’s office has tried Clifford four different times and failed to win a conviction.
In February 2013, Chase (a hit man for the Black Guerilla Family, according to police) was charged and held without bail for armed robbery and gun violations. He was released on July 10 after those felony charges were knocked down to misdemeanor assault.
Chase allegedly murdered Ramon Rodriquez on a playground near the 4600 block of Gough Street about 48 hours after his release from jail.
We agree with Mosby; the Chase and Clifford cases represent two catastrophic failures on the part of the Bernstein administration.
Most importantly, Mosby has offered solid solutions to improve the quality of life for Baltimore residents.
In the wake of the Nelson Clifford sexual assault fiasco, Mosby drafted and secured sponsorship for legislation in Annapolis, which will make it easier to introduce evidence against serial rapists and child molesters.
Mosby notes that Baltimore City Police issued a report that concluded the violent repeat offenders program, “has lost its impetus and focus in recent years,” laying the blame at Bernstein’s feet.
Specifically, Baltimore Police believed the VRO list was being maintained by the state’s attorney’s office and the state’s attorney’s office thought police were charged with maintaining the list. Mosby says within 100 days of assuming office she will sit down with the police commissioner to review and refine the criteria for identifying VRO’s and craft a shared system for maintaining and updating a program.
Mosby is also in favor of implementing the “Back on Track,” program established in California by the state’s attorney general Kamala Harris. Back on Track is a youth diversion program which offers alternatives including education, training, and job placement for young, non-violent drug offenders (a similar program has been very successful in Prince George’s County).
In her pursuit of the State’s Attorney’s office, Mosby has garnered some significant and high profile endorsements. The AFL-CIO, AFSCME, SEIU as well as the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and others have endorsed Mosby. She is also backed by former U.S. Rep. and former NAACP head Kweisi Mfume, University of Maryland law professor and internationally renowned political strategist Larry Gibson, and former State’s Attorney and Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schoke.
Mosby is married to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby and they reside with their two young daughters in West Baltimore, not far from an open-air drug market. Last year, the couple marched the streets of West Baltimore for 27 weeks during the “Stop the Violecne,” Rallies. She says the city’s reputation for violence, mayhem and murder promulgated by the popularity of “The Wire,” dissuades businesses from setting up shop and bringing much needed employment opportunities to Baltimore.
Mosby, cogent, confident, and relentless says she knows, “what needs to be done to make Baltimore a safer place to live, work, and raise a family.” We hope she gets the opportunity after June 24.
43rd District-Joan Carter Conway
Earlier this year, we suggested Baltimore City Fourth District Councilman Bill Henry, “will likely need a stone, sling and a prayer,” to defeat Sen. Joan Carter Conway. Truth is, even with more modern military hardware, it is unlikely Henry can mount any serious threat to unseat the powerful Northeast Baltimore senator. Conway, one of the most influential senators of the Baltimore City delegation, is perhaps the staunchest political ally of Morgan State University located in her district, and the state’s other three historically Black Colleges and universities. Her presence in Annapolis is an essential one for Baltimore City.
45th District-Nathaniel J. McFadden
In perhaps one of the more controversial races of the Democratic primaries, veteran Sen. Nathaniel McFadden will face convicted political operative Julius Henson in the contest for the 45th District’s Senate seat.
Cleared by a judge to run for office, Henson has come out with guns blazing in an unsurprisingly venomous smear campaign against McFadden. In fliers and social media, Henson has accused the incumbent of a list of misdeeds, including “corruption,” “twerking not working” with a campaign contributor during the session in Annapolis, of not serving his constituents and of not being “healthy enough”—McFadden walks with a cane—to serve.
In interviews with the AFRO and other media, McFadden said he refused to dignify Henson’s ridiculous claims. His record of over 20 years in Annapolis he added, speaks for itself. As president pro tempore and as vice chairman of the Senate’s budget committee, the senator said, he helped funnel billions of state dollars to his largely poor and working class district and to the city. This year, McFadden added, he helped secure an expansion of pre-kindergarten programs and a rise in the minimum wage. And, if re-elected, the longtime educator said would continue to focus his efforts on education, economic development and job creation.
Given a choice between McFadden, who has always displayed sensitivity to the needs of the Black community, and Henson, who was convicted for conspiring to suppress the votes of Black voters in the 2010 elections, the AFRO’s decision is crystal clear: We endorse Nathaniel McFadden for the District 45 Senate seat.
Maryland House of Delegates
Marvin “Doc” Cheatham
Third Seat: a toss-up Between Barbara Robinson and Antonio Hayes.
The above candidates to fill the three seats in the 40th District House of Delegates made it difficult to choose among them since each of them was considered highly capable to adequately represent the 40th District. These candidates in our opinion, merited special recognition given the number of people they were competing against, and the fact that we believed they reflected, in comparison, exceptional skills and experience that justified receiving special consideration for your vote.
We endorse the candidacies of Shawn Tarrant and Marvin “Doc” Cheatham. Tarrant, an incumbent in the 40th, is, in our opinion, one of the strongest members of the Baltimore City delegation.
As chief deputy majority whip in the House and a member of the Health and Government Operations Committee, Tarrant has displayed leadership on crafting several pieces of legislation on healthcare, a vital need in the district he serves.
Tarrant is also a very active member of several community organizations and few members of the legislature display more outward passion for public service.
Cheatham, a veteran civil rights leader in Maryland, is past president of the Baltimore Chapter of the National Action Network, past president of the Baltimore Branch of the NAACP, and past president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). Few individuals (if any) have been personally responsible for registering more voters in Maryland, than Cheatham, who was an election specialist with the National Labor Relations Board for more than 42 years. Cheatham, who has received numerous awards and citations for his work has been out in front on countless issues of great importance to the Black community and poor people across the state.
We believe his commitment to civil rights will translate perfectly to a seat in the House of Delegates representing the 40th District.
With respect to the 40th District’s third seat, we found both the incumbent Barbara Robinson and community activist Antonio Hayes to be equally compelling and very impressive. We therefore will leave the choice between these two candidates up to the 40th District voters to decide since we believe the district will be very well served should either one of these two candidates be elected.
41st District, Baltimore City
Nathaniel T. Oaks
Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg
43rd District, Baltimore City
44A District, Baltimore City
Most of the drastically reconfigured 44th Legislative District of Baltimore City was shifted into Baltimore County following redistricting leaving three incumbents battling for one seat in the House. The newly carved out 44A is the section of the district that remains in the city. Our pick is Del. Keiffer Mitchell, who served with distinction in the Baltimore City Council and continues to provide effective representation in one of the city’s most impoverished districts.
Keiffer J. Mitchell
45th District, Baltimore City
Register of Wills
Julie R. Rubin
Phillip S. Jackson
Melissa M. Phinn
Christopher L. Panos
Jeffrey M. Geller
Melissa K. Copeland
House of Delegates
Adrienne A. Jones
Michael Tyrone Brown Sr.