The Implosion of Ben Jealous
Maryland Democratic Party Gubernatorial Nominee Ben Jealous is having the worst week of any Democratic statewide nominee in the modern era.
Just since Sunday, Ben Jealous has:
- Tweeted that it was racist for Governor Larry Hogan to call him a far-left socialist;
- Saw a Democratic member of the State Senate endorse Governor Hogan’s re-election;
- Dropped the F-Bomb heard ’round the world on Washington Post Reporter Erin Cox;
- Saw the RGA put another ad on the air reminding voters that, yes, he was a socialist
- Declined an invitation to speak to the Maryland Association of Counties in a spot traditionally reserved for the Democratic nominee for Governor; and,
- Released an internal poll that shows Jealous down by 9 percentage points in a state with a 2-to-1 Democratic majority.
Let’s just say that Ben Jealous is not living his best life right now.
Every one of these events shows that Ben Jealous is an overmatched politician who isn’t ready for prime time as a candidate or capable of leading our state. Every one of those events shows a candidate that is having a very public meltdown.
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Most of this ultimately comes back to the word that has defined this campaign; socialist. The Ben Jealous is, by definition, a socialist. Sure, he may wrap himself in the mantra of “venture capitalist” but the fact is that his agenda is a socialist agenda. He wants to force Marylanders into government-run health care. He wants to provide free college to everybody. He wants to pass a $15 minimum wage. He wants to put new handcuffs on businesses and job creators. This isn’t news to people. We’ve been talking about the socialism of Ben Jealous
Further complicating matters is the fact that Ben Jealous spent most of 2015 and 2016 campaign for Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist. Do we need to remind you about the views that Ben Jealous and Bernie Sanders have?
Jealous doubled-down on the race card again tonight on WJZ
I caught up with Democratic candidate for governor Ben Jealous post F-bomb and apology after asked whether or not he was a socialist.
The claim itself follows TV ads from the opposition portraying him as a socialist.
Here’s Jealous at an event in Baltimore: pic.twitter.com/Ymko1UEjHe
— George Solis (@GeorgeSolisWJZ) August 8, 2018
Trying to say that those calling him a socialist is racist rhetoric is a pathetic cry for help from a campaign that can’t do anything correctly.
Meanwhile, Jealous’ self-inflicted wound today on the dropping the F-bomb may play well with his out-of-state base but it certainly isn’t going to play well here. The takeaway from voters is going to be that Ben Jealous is an unhinged hothead who doesn’t have the temperament to serve in public office, something that is already becoming an issue in the Baltimore County Executive race. The Jealous outburst also brings back certain charges from the primary campaign that the Jealous campaign would probably rather you forget regarding alleged issues Jealous has with women:
So the @BenJealous campaign hires a firm that has fired a woman who spoke out against sexual harassment & the campaign calls @ValerieErvin a liar after she speaks out against Jealous’ bullying. Am I the only one to see a pattern here? #MDpolitics #MDgov
— Rich Madaleno (@RichMadaleno) June 23, 2018
Leaving that aside, the Jealous campaign avoiding the MACO Conference seems like a boneheaded move at a time in which Jealous needs to be in front of as many political influencers as possible, both in the government and in the media. Jealous is a relatively unknown commodity to a lot of government officials since he is still relatively new to Maryland Politics. Either Jealous is scared to death that he’s going to get called out by these officials for his radical socialism, or his campaign is being run by people who don’t understand Maryland Politics.
Meanwhile, the campaign releasing an internal poll that shows him nine points down is a monster red flag. The release of the internals was probably some attempt to stop the bleeding from the F-bomb debacle. Except it shows Jealous as an exceptionally weak candidate in a state where mathematically he should have a large advantage. That the Jealous campaign felt the need to release an internal poll this close to the release of the first independent poll, the Gonzales Poll which will be released Tuesday, says a lot about how the Jealous campaign sees themselves. Internal campaigns show results in a more positive light than independent polls do. This release tells us that the Gonzales Poll is going to show Jealous getting blown out of the water.
That says nothing about the fact that Jealous is banking on a turnout model that requires 20-percent more voters to show up than in the 2014 election, 12 percent more than in 2010, and have record turnout across the board that somehow will be motivated to vote for somebody who wants to tax them back into poverty. Nobody would say that their logic is sound.
If any of this is surprising to you, you haven’t been paying attention. I wrote this last October:
His campaign to date has been heavy on high concepts, socialist buzzwords, and a combination of feel-good vibes and angry rhetoric. But there is no overarching reason as to why Jealous wants to be Governor. He drifts from issue to issue, often times onto issues that are irrelevant to state government.The issues that he does talk about he talks about with vague generalities and no little policy specifics or funding mechanisms. Occasionally he goes off and gets himself arrested to keep his radicalized base happy.
This isn’t a campaign in the normal sense of the word. It’s a political celebrity running a campaign by the seat of his pants while not totally seeming to understand why he is running for the office that he is seeking.
Has any of that really changed in ten months?
I started this piece saying that Ben Jealous is having the worst week of any Democratic statewide nominee in the modern era. It’s hard to wonder how it could get worse for Jealous. Democratic elected officials are abandoning him. The Republican Governors Association is blasting the airwaves with TV spots while the Democratic Governors Association leaves him twisting in the wind, having written Maryland off. He self-identified is a socialist, and is now mad that people actually believed him. His frustration at being a bad and unprepared candidate has led to him cussing at journalists in bouts of frustration. And his campaign finds it necessary to show how he’s “only” down nine-points in a state where his party has a massive voter registration majority.
Ben Jealous and his campaign are imploding before our eyes. At this point, the question is only how much of the Democratic Party will Ben Jealous take with him as collateral damage.