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Sanders-backed candidate wins Maryland governor’s nomination

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Former NAACP President Ben Jealous won the right to face Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in November in a significant win for national progressives hoping to steer Democrats to the left.

The Associated Press called the race for Jealous at 10:36 p.m. EDT. His major Democratic challenger was Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, seen as a more pragmatic but no less liberal contender.

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In his first run for public office, Jealous cast himself as the most liberal candidate in the field, touting endorsements from national figures like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and boasting of 1,000 volunteers who deployed across the state in the final weekend before voters went to the polls.

Baker, on the other hand, brought a firmer political base to the table, as the chief executive of the state’s second-largest county. He earned support from local leaders like Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D) and former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D).

Reflecting Maryland’s two major vote centers, both front-runners chose running mates who hail from the other half of the state.

Jealous, who is from Baltimore, chose Susan Turnbull, a former vice chair of the Democratic National Committee from Montgomery County, the Washington suburb. Baker chose Elizabeth Embry, a state’s attorney who ran for mayor of Baltimore in 2016.

Jealous will face a seriously difficult fight against Hogan, one of the most popular governors in the nation, according to public surveys. A Gonzales Research and Media Services poll from earlier this month found that Hogan’s job approval stood at 75 percent, while just 17 percent said they disapproved of him.

The poll found Hogan leading Jealous 51 percent to 34 percent.

But all is not lost for the Democratic contender, especially if President Trump remains deeply unpopular come November. Trump’s approval rating stands at just 37 percent in heavily-Democratic Maryland. The last time a Republican president was so unpopular, then-Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) lost his job in 2006 to his one-time underdog challenger, O’Malley.

Tags 2018 primaries Bernie Sanders Chris Van Hollen Donald Trump governor's race Maryland Steny Hoyer

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