LANHAM — Jerry Mathis, Republican candidate for Prince George’s County executive, withdrew from the election and joined the administration of his opponent, Democratic candidate Angela Alsobrooks.
“Certainly we are very happy to have the support from Mr. Mathis and we look forward to moving forward now and working together to unite the county and focus on serving the citizens of Prince George’s County and helping to make Ms. Alsobrooks vision for the county a reality,” said John Erzen, spokesperson for Angela Alsobrooks.
Brandon Cooper, chair of the Republican Central Committee for Prince George’s County (RCCPGC), said that Mathis called him on Saturday, Aug. 25, to inform him of his withdrawal from the race. Although Cooper felt that Mathis wasn’t running his campaign as seriously as he should have been, he didn’t expect him to drop out two months before the election.
“I didn’t see any signs of it,” Cooper said. “We knew that Jerry was a democrat just over two years ago. He didn’t run a true campaign. He wasn’t really running a campaign, we thought that was odd. We didn’t think this would happen, that he would not just drop out but endorse his opponent.”
On top of being a Democrat only a few years ago and not running a serious campaign, Cooper said that Mathis made a deal with Alsobrooks to drop out of the race and join her team.
“When he called me last Saturday, he told me that he’s dropping out and that he had negotiated with Angela in a backroom deal to get a position with her administration,” Cooper said.
According to Cooper, over a text conversation with Mathis confirming his withdrawal and the impact of RCCPGC finding another candidate on his new appointment, Mathis said, “I’m sure it will have some impact, although I’m sure it won’t be discussed with me. That’s just politics. It will, if nothing else, diminish my seat at the table. I will be forced to distance myself from the Republican Party as opposed to including them in my future negotiations.”
However, Erzen said the statement of there being any deal between Mathis and Alsobrooks is untrue.
“I don’t know what he’s talking about at all,” he said. “There is absolutely no deal between Ms. Alsobrooks and Mr. Mathis. Mr. Mathis withdrew of his own accord and wanted to endorse Ms. Alsobrooks. There is no deal, Ms. Alsobrooks never made any sort of deal, that’s not the way that she operates, that’s not the way that she governs.”
At this point, the Republican Party has until Sept. 6 to find another candidate to replace Mathis. The RCCPGC has had offers from people hoping to run and is currently making the decision of who they will appoint or if they will appoint a new candidate at all.
Until then, the Republican Party is putting more stock into their only other candidate for county office, Felicia Folarin, who is running for county council at-large. According to Cooper, Folarin has raised more money than any Republican candidate in the county since Audrey Scott in 2002 and the RCCPGC feels that she is running a strong campaign that is bringing about a resurgence of the strength of the party.
With Democrats being the overwhelming majority in the county, the RCCPGC hopes that even though Mathis is out of the race, they hope to see Folarin win the election and bring a new voice to the “one-party democratic rule.”
“The fact that these backroom deals that have long plagued Prince George’s County and the corrupt politicians that control the county, I think residents in Prince George’s County are open to having an independent voice in county government,” said Cooper. “And I really do think Felicia Folarin who is running for county council can be that independent voice…I think that you will see as democrats continue politics as usual, you’ll see our party continue to grow as an alternative to the status quo in Prince George’s County.”
Jerry Mathis did not respond to request for interview.