By Arya Hodjat
State Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery) came to the University of Maryland Tuesday, discussing his campaign to unseat Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) in next year’s gubernatorial election.
The event, which was held in Tydings Hall, was hosted as a cooperative effort between the University of Maryland chapter of Our Revolution, a progressive group formed out of the 2016 presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the UMD College Democrats. About 30 students attended.
Madaleno represents the 18th district in the State Senate, centered around Wheaton and Kensington. He was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2002, before moving up to the State Senate in 2006, where he now serves as the vice-chair of the budget and taxation committee. Madaleno would be the first openly gay governor elected in the nation’s history.
“When I was first running for the House of Delegates, I was told, you can’t be out because it’d destroy your career.” Madaleno said. “It’s become normalized, but it didn’t come without a lot of effort, and I’m glad I was a part of that effort.”
Madaleno said his main campaign issues were education and helping young people succeed. He spoke out against the proposed Republican tax bill and said it would negatively impact graduate students, an issue that resonated with his audience.
According to NPR, the House version of the bill would make tuition waivers for graduate students, which are granted for research or teaching, subject to be taxed as income.
“For someone like me, who plans on pursuing grad school, that’s a huge issue,” said Anthony Richardson, a freshman government and politics major.
Madaleno also wants the state’s public school system to move towards a structure of community schools, schools that bring the social services necessary for children and parents into the schools themselves, he said.
During the speech, Madaleno touted his legislative experience, emphasizing his progressive voting record over his fifteen years in the state legislature. Madaleno supports a $15 minimum wage, as well as a universal health care system within the state.
“I don’t think that any other Democratic candidate would be able to go into such detail about the issues as [Madaleno] did,” said Julian Savelski, a junior government and politics and philosophy major who attended the event.
While Madaleno called Hogan a “nice guy,” he emphasized that given the power granted to the Maryland governor’s office, the state “could not afford” a second term for him, especially with President Donald Trump in office, he said.
“We can’t afford an untethered governor when we have an unhinged president,” Madaleno said.
Madaleno expressed his frustration with the governor’s stance on transportation issues. In 2015, Hogan cancelled a $2.9 billion project to build a light rail system across Baltimore, calling it a “wasteful boondoggle,” the Baltimore Sun reported.
In September, however, Hogan proposed a $9 billion dollar plan to add toll lanes to three Maryland highways: The I-270, I-495, and the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
“I cannot disagree with the governor’s transportation priorities, and his method of making decisions, more.” Madaleno said. “The idea of the toll lanes on the beltway is a bad environmental decision, and not the direction we should be going in.”
Despite Hogan’s popularity in the state — an October poll by Morning Consult found that Hogan was the second most popular governor in the nation among his constituents — Madaleno was optimistic about his chances in a high-turnout race, citing recent Democratic success down-ballot in the state as an example. In the Nov. 7th elections, Democrats swept the Frederick city council, as well as ousting the incumbent Republican mayor of Annapolis.
Madaleno’s visit was the first in the series of speeches organized by Our Revolution and UMD College Democrats.
Other candidates, such as NAACP President Ben Jealous and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, are scheduled to come to the campus later this school year.
The two groups are also working on bringing former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Maryland), a candidate for Prince George’s County Executive, to the campus, Our Revolution UMD President Christopher Walkup said.
While Our Revolution as a whole has endorsed Jealous, Walkup said that he himself was undecided on what candidate he would support in the primary.
“I’m really excited about this series,” Walkup said. “I’m leaning towards Jealous, but I’m definitely open to other candidates. For me, it’s also just a selfish way to learn more about the candidates.”