COLLEGE PARK — As the Maryland Gubernatorial Election quickly approaches, Democratic nominee Ben Jealous made a campaign stop at arguably the state’s flagship university to urge Prince George’s County residents and constituents to support his bid as part of an effort to galvanize one million Democratic voters to the polls on Nov. 6.
On the evening of Oct. 6, Jealous headlined a political rally on the campus of the University of Maryland, College Park in the Hoff Theater.
A large crowd, mainly comprised of students and Prince George’s County residents attended the rally. Most were Democrats and visible supporters of Jealous.
Organizers and campaign workers for Jealous paced the hallways leading to the auditorium with excitement, handing out campaign stickers and posters inscribed with Jealous’ campaign slogan, “Courage to Lead,” and vehemently encouraging guests to register to vote.
Noted comedian and actor Dave Chappelle is Jealous’ godbrother and was one of the highlights of the campaign rally.
He joined a host of prominent political figures, including Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and former president Barack Obama, who have pledged support for Jealous.
The other speakers were running mate and lieutenant governor hopeful Susan Turnbull (UMD graduate), well-known political commentator and CNN contributor Van Jones, Prince George’s County Councilman Mel Franklin (District 9) and UMD student Kerry Billings, Chief of Staff for the College Democrats of Maryland.
An estimated more than 2 million Marylanders are expected to vote in this year’s election, meaning that 1 million votes are needed to secure a victory for Jealous.
To support the efforts of registering and rallying voters, Jealous’ campaign has hired 50 organizers, and 23 offices have been opened across the state, according to a press release.
In accordance with other speakers, Jones voiced his support for Jealous and fervent disdain for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, President Donald Trump, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh along with other Republican politicians.
“I have known Ben Jealous for 25 years, and I’m going to tell you…I’ve never had a moment with Ben where he is not talking about or thinking about justice and opportunity,” Jones told the audience.
“He is an extraordinary human being. He is able to get people who opposed him to eventually be won over to support him because his integrity is beyond question, his courage is beyond question.”
Jones, former co-host of the CNN political debate show Crossfire, said that Maryland is a state with potential that deserves a man like Jealous instead of Hogan.
“We deserve better than that (Hogan). We need a problem solver. We need Ben Jealous,” he said.
“Don’t punish this man for the sins of other politicians. You’ve never had somebody like him run for office, ever. And he deserves your full, passionate support…In this state, you got somebody who is willing to stick his neck out and fight anybody for you. We should everything we can to fight for him. Vote for Ben Jealous.”
Chappelle, a Washington, D.C. native, characterized Jealous as a man of stature of whom he has always admired.
“I am here today to support my godbrother,” said the famed comic to begin brief remarks on the relationship between himself and Jealous.
Chappelle said he met Jealous at age 17 after graduating high school and moved to New York City, where Jealous was attending Columbia University.
“We became like fast friends, we became like actual brothers because we were from similar points of origin, similar ideologies, but the difference between Ben and myself is that Ben’s intellect was cultivating and daunted,” Chappelle said.
He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met in my life.”
Chappelle has never endorsed a campaign up until this point. Chappelle said he vividly remembers Jealous’ passion for social activism from their younger days, giving the audience more reasons to endorse the gubernatorial hopeful.
“He was an organizer. He was always working on something. It was always somebody he was trying to get out of jail who he felt like was wrongly accused or an execution he was trying to stop. He was always concerned about other people and I was very impressed by that,” Chappelle said.
“This guy is a problem solver. This guy is a committed advocate for people, and I am not a political person. If Ben was a Republican, I’d still endorse him. If Ben was an independent, I’d endorse him. I’m not red, I’m not blue, but this guy is the truth.
“I really do believe in this person and I’m sure he’s gonna do a great job for Maryland. And I believe he can build a model for Maryland that the rest of the country could follow.”
After Chappelle’s six-minute address, he introduced Jealous, who was received with prolonged applause, cheering, whistling and raised hands with campaign posters as he approached the podium with glee.
The Pacific Grove, Calif., native delivered a series of promises to a crowd that appeared convinced that Jealous is equipped to lead Maryland, of which frequently applauding throughout his speech.
“Brothers and sisters I am asking you, in 31 days, to get out there and organize – to get out there and let people know that we can make Maryland a model for moving forward, even with Donald Trump in Washington,” Jealous said.
Jealous, former national president and CEO of the NAACP and Director of the National Newspapers’ Publishers Association (NNPA) repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with Republicans in leadership.
“Our governor doesn’t have the courage to lead,” he said of Hogan.
Jealous reiterated much of what he conveyed in the 2018 Maryland Gubernatorial Debate against Hogan on Sept. 24, voicing a platform that partly includes free college tuition, and end student debt crisis, marijuana legalization, criminal justice reform, job creation, universal health care and a $15 minimum wage for Marylanders.
“For the next month, we do what we know how to do. A month from now you are looking at the next governor of Maryland,” Jealous concluded.
Chappelle and Jealous took a large selfie with the crowd at the conclusion of the rally.