By Sean Yoes, AFRO Baltimore Editorsyoes@afro.com

I voted for Larry Hogan in 2014. However, I won’t be voting for him in 2018, because I am voting for Ben Jealous in November.

Here’s why.

I voted for Hogan over Rep. Anthony Brown (then Lt. Gov. Brown) and it wasn’t even a close call for me. I interviewed Brown on more than one occasion and I spoke to people who dealt with him on a regular basis in the months leading up the 2014 election and two things seemed abundantly clear to me; Brown didn’t seem genuinely interested in the fate of Baltimore City and he didn’t seem particularly eager to help resolve the HBCU lawsuit against Maryland favorably for the state’s majority Black higher education institutions, and begin to repair the fiscal Jim Crow implemented against HBCU’s in Maryland for decades.

So, it wasn’t really hard for me to cast a vote for Hogan, the avuncular, seemingly harmless moderate Republican. Ultimately, when it comes to elections, I’m actually an Independent. But, unlike Sens. Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, in 2014 I went with the Republican. And I wasn’t alone.

Sean Yoes (Courtesy Photo)

According to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll, Hogan garnered 12.4 percent of the Black Democrat vote in 2014 (Trump won 8 percent of the total Black vote in 2016). According to the same poll, only 27 percent of the so-called “Hogan Democrats” approved of the job Martin O’Malley, did during the years Brown served as his Lieutenant Governor. This is an important data point of the Post-UM poll; the apparent general dissatisfaction of Hogan Democrats generally and Black Democrats specifically during the O’Malley-Brown years, probably made pulling the lever for Hogan more palatable. I know it did for me. But, I argue many Black Democrats weren’t just voting against O’Malley and/or Brown in 2014, I suspect a significant number were voting against the Democratic establishment machine for various reasons.

Personally, during the 2018 primary process, I leaned towards Jealous (for reasons I’ll expound upon later). But, once I got to sit down with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker (who I had never met before), Jealous’ most formidable opponent, I saw why so many people I respect were on Baker’s team and had been for many years. Then I saw the phalanx of Maryland’s Democratic establishment figures, led by O’Malley line up behind Baker. That did it for me; I enthusiastically voted for Jealous on June 26.

Now, it is time for Black Democrats or Black Independents, who typically vote Democrat (like me) to come home to Jealous.

I’ve known Jealous for a long time; I don’t know him extremely well, but I know enough to know that he is no darling of the Democratic establishment. Maryland’s Democratic machine has far too often taken the Black vote and Black people for granted and has at times (too many times) been openly hostile to Black progressive political leaders within the party (Sen. Jill Carter comes to mind).

Jealous is at the apex of progressive Democratic leadership, not just here in Maryland, but nationally (he has been endorsed by Sanders and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA.), among others). As we find ourselves combating virulent strains of authoritarianism and fascism (not hyperbole), spewing wildly from the White House, an authentic Progressive movement is needed in America now more than any other time in my lifetime. Jealous has crafted a Progressive platform essential to many in Maryland’s burgeoning disenfranchised communities. Throughout his adult life Jealous has been a champion for these communities.

On November 6, the winner of Maryland’s gubernatorial race will likely be a strong indicator of the breadth and ferocity of the much anticipated “blue wave” predicted to sweep across the nation on Election Day. For the sake of most Black and Brown people, poor people, the working class and LGBTQ community, I hope it is Jealous.

But, in order for Jealous to win in Maryland, Black Democrats who voted for Hogan in 2014 have to “come back home” in a big way.

Sean Yoes is the AFRO’s Baltimore Editor and the author of, Baltimore After Freddie Gray: Real Stories From One of Baltimore’s Great Imperiled Cities.