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Participating Candidates

Click one of the portraits below to read a short biography from the candidate.

Rushern Baker

Rushern Baker

Ben Jealous

Ben Jealous

Kevin Kamenetz

Kevin Kamenetz

Rich Madaleno

Rich Madaleno

Alec Ross

Alec Ross

Krishanti Vignarajah

Krishanti Vignarajah

Moderator - Aryani Ong

Aryani Ong is a former civil rights attorney who has worked with national advocacy organizations, speaking to audiences around the country and before the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  She has volunteered extensively in the county, including as board chair of the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy.

Currently, she is a senior advisor to Communities United Against Hate, an officer with the Asian American Political Alliance, an active member of a parent advisory body to the school system, MoCo WoMen and United for Maryland, as well as a community leader in several national circles.  Soon, Aryani will launch a blog called Six Hues where she will bring out culturally diverse perspectives on news, community and politics.

Aryani Ong Community Advocate

Aryani Ong
Community Advocate

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Rushern Baker

During my travels around the state I’ve felt the anxiety hidden behind the smiles. Hard working people feel forgotten, overlooked, ignored.  They feel they’re fighting their battles alone. Think about the greatest challenges you face personally and we face as a state and ask the question: has our Governor punted on or confronted those issues?

I’m running for Governor because I don’t believe you lead by doing only what’s easy. I believe you must have the courage to do what’s right for all of us. I’m hoping to earn your support. You already have mine.

Let me tell you about the experience and perspective I’d bring to the Governor’s office.  Like many here in Maryland, I grew up in a military family – we moved around a lot.

In school I struggled with reading – I got into fights – and I got held back.  But because I had loving parents and teachers who refused to give up on me – I got the education I needed and became the first in my family to go to college. Education saved my life.

Every politician says they’re for better schools but are they tough enough to make the political sacrifices necessary to make it happen? For me, it’s very personal.

I’m the one candidate in this race who has tackled the state’s critical issues AND passed laws through the state legislature AND run a large, complex government – the 2nd largest county in the state. When I became County Executive, there was basically no economic development happening in the county, we had a foreclosure crisis, crime was rising and the county had been rocked by an ethics scandal – we were down.

7 years later, Prince George’s County is leading the state in job creation, with 8 billion dollars worth of development, crime is down to the lowest level in 30 years and we’ve passed tough ethics reform that’s a model for other counties in the state. What’s supposed to be going up, is up. What’s supposed to be down, is down. Are we perfect? No. Are we better?  Absolutely!

Whether you live in a rural, urban, or suburban part of the state I’ve got a record of results on issues that matter to you.   Do you really want someone with no record, a poor record, or a record of ignoring issues in charge of our future?

Every child should and can get a great education.  We can create good jobs and make sure our workers have the skills to compete.  We can make our neighborhoods safer and tackle opioid abuse. You deserve and will have family medical leave and every family can have affordable healthcare.  We can grow Maryland’s economy so it works for all of us.


Ben Jealous

I'm running for governor because in the Trump-era, we need new leadership with the courage and experience to protect our values. I've spent my entire life bringing people together and building broad, diverse coalitions to create real change in real time to ensure that government is responsive and accountable to the people. I have demonstrated that I will stand up for progressive principles and specializes in building unlikely alliances to advance good public policy to achieve those ends. 

I stand for a Maryland where hard work is the only thing standing between people and success. I believe that if you work hard you should be able to send your kids to good schools with a highly qualified teacher in every classroom, you should be able to have quality, affordable health insurance without worrying about rising premiums, your job should pay a living wage, you should have the opportunity to attend college or learn a trade without going into massive debt and you should be able to start a business without unnecessary red tape. 

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Kevin Kamenetz


The youngest of five children, Kevin grew up working in his father’s family drug store, where he learned the value of hard work and integrity. After graduating from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Baltimore School of Law, Kevin began his career in public service as a prosecutor in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office. In 1994, he was elected to the Baltimore County Council where he served four terms.

In 2010, he was elected as Baltimore County’s 12th County Executive, and was reelected in 2014.

Kevin is a former President of the Maryland Association of Counties and the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.

Kevin and his wife Jill are proudly raising their two teenage sons in Owings Mills.


Rich Madaleno

My name is Rich Madaleno. I have had the honor of serving the people of Maryland in the State House and Senate for the past 15 years. People know me as a policy expert, sometimes even as a wonk.  People know me as a pragmatic, responsible leader on budget issues. They know me as crusader for civil rights and social justice. They know me as a proud husband and loving father. I am running for governor… and I am going to win.

I am the only Democrat who can take on – and beat – Larry Hogan.

I will win because there is no other candidate in the race - including the incumbent - who brings my track record of leadership and real results for the people of Maryland. I have served as an effective and unrelenting champion for the entire state. From education to transportation, from economic development to economic justice, from sustainable health care to environmental sustainability… no other candidate has taken on so many of the toughest fights from the inside – and won them.

On the critical issues facing the people of our state, we need a bold, tireless governor who can set an agenda of progress for all Marylanders.  Larry Hogan is not that governor – Rich Madaleno will be that Governor.


Alec Ross

Talent is everywhere - but opportunity is not. I’m running for Governor because that needs to change. I saw real talent in the sixth graders I taught in West Baltimore at Booker T. Washington Middle School. Some of my students were brilliant - but because of things beyond their control, they barely stood a chance. Under Larry Hogan, we aren’t doing our best to connect talent and opportunity. I've dedicated my career to expanding educational and economic opportunity to those who currently don't have it.

My campaign is about a new way of thinking about challenging government to do better for hard working families and a new way of generating opportunity in every neighborhood in our state. We need to make critical investments in economic development to create new jobs, fight to strengthen workers’ rights, empowering women, and create a government that works for the people of Maryland, rather than special interests. Together, we will make sure that Maryland leads the way to the economy of the future. 


I'm running for Governor to fight for Maryland values and stand up to Trumpism. I want everyone in Trump's Washington to know that the second they cross the state line into Maryland -- they are entering into the heart of the resistance. It’s important that progressives, immigrant communities, communities of color, and labor all have a voice in Annapolis standing up to the disaster coming out of Washington.

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Krishanti Vignarajah

Maryland made my American Dream possible—from escaping a civil war to working for Michelle Obama at the White House. I want to build one Maryland for all, so we can improve education for everyone, raise wages across the State, and protect the Chesapeake Bay for generations to come. I’ve already been called Trump’s “worst nightmare” -- as a woman, a minority, an immigrant, and a mom,I represent everything that President Trump disparages every day. I am running for Governor to defend and fight for the values that define and unite us and to make sure Maryland is the beacon of hope, opportunity, innovation, and courage it has been for my family all my life.

As a new mother and lifelong Marylander, I'm running for Governor because I'm worried my daughter and other children across Maryland will not have the same opportunities my parents gave me when they brought our family to Baltimore when I was a baby girl.

My parents came here when I was just 9 months old to escape a civil war. They found a state ripe with opportunity for anybody who was willing to work for it, and a strong public school system that empowered me to succeed. For most of my life, Maryland led the nation in school performance, job creation, and conservation; it was a beacon of hope, opportunity, innovation, and courage. But today too many of the students who can least afford to be left behind have been forgotten altogether. Too many workers have been left out. And our precious Chesapeake Bay faces its greatest risks in decades. The deficit in leadership from our current Governor could not come at a worse time.

As Governor, I will focus on what matters most—improving schools, increasing wages, reducing crime, treating drug addiction, investing in infrastructure, alleviating traffic, and protecting our treasured natural resources. To accomplish all this, politics as usual is not enough. We need a new generation of leadership and policies that will make progress at home, while standing up to a White House that threatens the very values that unite and define us. Some of my policy priorities will be: to strengthen our schools, guarantee universal Pre-K, ensure access to affordable childcare, rectify statewide K-12 funding inequities, and ensure a world-class STEM education to every Maryland public school student; to revitalize our economy, expand the biotech and tech corridors to every corner of Maryland, deliver pay equity and paid family medical leave to every Maryland worker, invest in infrastructure to reduce congestion and to increase access to employment; safeguard our environment, make Maryland the national leader in clean energy and climate action in the United States, restore the Chesapeake Bay & Maryland’s treasured waterways, and invest in Maryland’s outdoor economy. I have proudly spent my career forging I have proudly spent my career forging innovative thinking policies, building consensus, and delivering results.