Candidate Has Hours to Decide Maryland Governor's Race Bid - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: Running Mate Takes Place of Deceased Md. Gubernatorial Candidate

Posted: May 17, 2018 11:46 AM Updated:
Former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin  (Handout photo / BSMG) Former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (Handout photo / BSMG)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)- The running mate of a Maryland gubernatorial candidate who died suddenly last week announced shortly before a Thursday deadline that she will run for governor in his place.  

Valerie Ervin had three options: Run herself in a crowded Democratic primary, choose someone else to lead the ticket, or scrap the campaign altogether. With a 5 p.m. Thursday deadline looming, Ervin, a former member of the Montgomery County Council, chose to pick a running mate and compete herself. 

"I believe in a Maryland where working families come before corporate profits, where we help every kid achieve their full potential, and we all can thrive regardless of where we were born, the color of our skin, or the size of our bank account," Ervin said in a statement announcing her candidacy.       

She chose Marisol Johnson as her running mate, describing her as an immigrant from El Salvador who owns a small business, was a former Baltimore County school board member, and is a mother of four. 

Ervin, a former director of the Center for Working Families, which is part of the Baltimore-headquartered Annie E. Casey Foundation philanthropy, is one of seven candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in the June primary to oppose Republican Gov. Larry Hogan this fall.      

Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker and former NAACP head Ben Jealous are among those seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Hogan, the popular Republican incumbent.       

Before Thursday's announcement, Ervin gave no hint as to whether she might take over the top of the ticket or make another decision following the sudden death of candidate Kevin Kamenetz, which redrew Maryland's political landscape.       

Kamenetz's death from a heart attack at 60 shocked everyone in the state's political circles. The political leader of populous Baltimore County, he was widely perceived as one of the top three Democratic contenders in the race. With a $2 million war chest, he certainly had the most money of any Democratic hopeful.

Donald Norris, a political analyst and professor emeritus of public policy at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, described the death of a major candidate weeks before a primary as "unprecedented" in state politics.

"I don't recall anything like this at any level, but certainly not at the level of the governor or any statewide office," Norris said Thursday.  

In recent days, some Democrats have publicly urged Ervin to find a running mate and keep the campaign moving.

Donna Edwards, a former Democratic Maryland congresswoman and a candidate for Prince George's county executive, recently tweeted her support for Ervin as governor, saying "there's no one better to carry on Kevin's legacy."           

Ervin's campaign website was launched Thursday afternoon to coincide with her announcement. She says she wants to provide universal health care for all Maryland families, make the state's public schools the best in the nation, and help lead the country to becoming 100 percent reliant on renewable energy.

The Democratic primary is June 26.

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