Kamala Harris Endorses Former NAACP President in Race for Maryland Governor

Sen. Kamala Harris / Getty Images
March 23, 2018

Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) on Friday endorsed Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous, becoming the latest nationally-known progressive to back the former NAACP president's bid for governor.

Harris, who many observers believe is weighing a possible 2020 presidential run, did not mention incumbent Gov. Larry Hogan (R.) by name in her endorsement, opting instead to keep the focus on President Donald Trump and the national political environment.

"Ben is a champion of working people," Harris said in a statement, the Washington Post reported. "Everyday we see the damage being done to our country by this administration and we need leaders in our states like Ben, who have shown the political courage our families need right now."

According to a member of the Jealous campaign who spoke to the Post, Harris has also agreed to hold a rally for the former NAACP executive in the near future.

Jealous, a political newcomer who is mounting his first bid for elective office, took to Twitter on Friday to express his gratitude to Harris for the endorsement.

Jealous is one of nine Democrats vying to unseat Hogan this fall. He has attempted to distinguish himself in the crowded primary by staking out left-wing stances in favor of free college tuition, Medicare-for-All, and a $15 minimum wage. Those stances and Jealous' NAACP connection have resulted in his campaign receiving the endorsement of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) and the Sanders-backed advocacy group Our Revolution.

Apart from Sanders and Harris, Jealous has also garnered the spirited support of two other potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. In September, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti endorsed Jealous, citing their shared "passion" for raising the minimum wage, expanding transportation, and ending homelessness. In October, Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) endorsed the former NAACP president and held a fundraiser for him in the Washington, D.C. suburbs of Maryland.

Despite the high-profile endorsements, polling has shown Jealous consistently lagging behind front-runner Rushern Baker, the Prince George's County executive. It is unclear whether Jealous will be able to translate the media attention garnered by the Harris endorsement into traction with voters.

If Jealous were to win the Democratic nomination, he would face an uphill battle against Hogan in the general election. Maryland is a blue state, but the Republican incumbent is one of the most popular governors in the nation.

Harris' endorsement comes at a time when she is viewed as a rising star within the Democratic Party.