By Rev. Dr. K. A. Slayton
There’s a familiar saying that suggests, maybe “the third time’s a charm.” While it’s still a very popular idiom in our Western culture it simply suggests that sometimes twice simply isn’t enough. I considered this when I focused on the upcoming Maryland Gubernatorial election and the potential promise of an African American ascending to the 2nd Floor of the Annapolis State House.
In 2014 there were several politico’s who assumed that after the two-term success of former Governor Martin O’Malley that his more than capable Lt. Governor, Anthony Brown was a shoe in to succeed him. Brown, an African American male from Prince George’s County was highly qualified. Brown served in our U.S. military, graduated from Harvard Law School and served several stints as a state delegate with very impressive leadership roles during his tenure. His victory seemed a pretty sure and bygone conclusion. Unfortunately, Brown would lose to a rather unknown Republican, Larry Hogan. And the race was never really that close. Brown lost by a margin of some 65,000 votes in a state that proudly touts is liberal and progressive leanings.
Four years later Hogan and his running mate, an African American male, would face off in the general election against another African American male, Ben Jealous. Hogan won this race by over 250,000 votes. Jealous, the former head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was considered a decent candidate, but not necessarily the strongest. Still, what was most fascinating was the lack luster support of leading democrats of his campaign. One in particular stood out to me. The current Comptroller, at that time, publicly stated in a Baltimore Sun article (July 2, 2018) “I’m probably going to remain neutral.” Interestingly enough no one in the Democratic Party saw fit to raise any concern about such public rejection of one of their own in such an important race.
Four more years later and here we are again hoping for a change. But in a very crowded Democratic primary race there seems to be approximately 3 leading candidates, which can be problematic. The aforementioned Comptroller, Peter Franchot, former U.S. Labor Secretary during the Obama Administration, Tom Perez, and non-profit CEO and entrepreneur Wes Moore. One white, one Hispanic and one African American, respectively. So, I must ask the question, will the third time be a charm?
Maryland is seen as a staunchly blue state, primarily as a result of large numbers of registered Democratic voters in both Baltimore City and the D.C. Metropolitan area. And it is without question that much of this recognition is due in large part to the consistently loyal patronage of African American voters. From the Eastern Shore to Prince George’s County and Baltimore City black voters have proven the most loyal voting block in local electoral politics. And there are issues important to the black community. While race will always matter, so will the issues facing African American communities. Issues that the next Governor cannot ignore, but may very well get away with, if not held accountable. I’ve reached out twice myself to ask the candidates seeking office to agree to a Memorandum of Understanding with the black community and its leaders and there has been very little if any response. So, I figured I’d submit my request via this opinion piece. I would simply ask that the candidate put in writing their commitment to the following:
– Ensuring that 30% of their cabinet and agency heads will reflect the African American population of this state.
– Agree to ensure that 50% of tax revenues generated from the sales of cannabis be redistributed back into minority communities most affected by the incarceration of its residents as a result of arrests and impacts of our “war on drugs.”
– Agree to support tax policy for combined reporting, which would close the door to accounting maneuvers that allow large corporations doing business in the state to avoid paying their fair share.
– Agree to establish an office committed to the research and reduction of large numbers of African American male deaths due to gun violence.
– And lastly, agree to in-person (not staff) bi-weekly combined meetings during the legislative session with MD Black Caucus, Baltimore City and Prince George’s County delegations where a minimum of one non-elected community representative from each of the two jurisdictions is allowed to attend.
Again, I’ve asked twice and I’m hoping that maybe the third time’s the charm. If not for governor, maybe at least for our issues.