Rushern Baker’s Bad Day

You might think that Kevin Kamenetz, in the wake of Dallas Dance’s guilty plea, would be having the worst day among gubernatorial candidates. But he didn’t.

That honor goes to Rushern Baker.

Baker became the subject of the first Democratic attack of the 2018 gubernatorial primary, courtesy of Ben Jealous:

That prompted Jealous, a former NAACP chief who has been critical of the response to the grade-tampering scandal, to call for Maxwell’s ouster.

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“There is a clear and well-established pattern of gross negligence that is undermining confidence in the current leadership’s ability to respond to this crisis,” said Jealous, whose children attend public school in neighboring Montgomery County. “The buck stops with the CEO.”

Rushern Baker was having a bad time of it before Jealous piled on. Baker was trying to make education and his elimination of Prince George’s County corruption the cornerstones of his campaign, only to have both of those issues come crashing down on him with this grade-tampering scandal in the school system he insisted that he run. Some Democrats were trying to give Baker cover by calling previous calls for School CEO Kevin Maxwell’s ouster by Governor Larry Hogan as racism. But nobody can make that argument anymore after Jealous, the former NAACP National President, demanded a Maxwell be replaced as well.

Now if Baker were any kind of leader, he would have fired Maxwell a long time ago, realistically before the grade-fixing scandal ever broke. Maxwell, the former superintendent here in Anne Arundel County that people were happy to be rid of, has not exactly distinguished himself in his new role. Baker certainly should have jettisoned when it became apparent that Maxwell was negligent in his duties. Baker’s failure to lead shows just how poorly of a job he has done leading Prince George’s County, a county beset by problems in their schools and with rampant corruption.

Baker’s didn’t get any help from an op-ed that was posted on the Baltimore Sun website and will run in Friday’s paper calling for tax hikes:

Talk of new revenue sources is always difficult for state and local lawmakers. But in Maryland there is a model to use tax policy to effectively drive public health outcomes. With any change in tax policy, transparency is paramount so citizens understand the intended policy objective and how the funds are being allocated. But it should not be hard to convince Marylanders that more can be done on any number of public health issues from rising cost of health care, to the opioid epidemic and the persistence of smokeless tobacco products.

Normally an op-ed wouldn’t cause problems for a candidate. Except this time the op-ed is written by Robert C. Embry Jr. the president of the Abell Foundation.

Embry also happens to be the father of Elizabeth Embry, Rushern Baker’s running mate. And Baker has admitted that he relied on Robert Embry’s counsel early in his career.

So now in addition to questions about his oversight of education, questions about corruption in his county, and weathering attacks in the Democratic primary, one of the members of Baker’s inner-circle is now promoting tax increases in the state’s largest paper.

Hardly a good day for the purported frontrunner in a jumbled, messy, race full of underachievers. Hopefully for his sake, Baker is starting to realize that it isn’t going to get any better from here.

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