Sen. Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution, a progressive group that grew out of his presidential campaign and seeks to "revitalize American democracy," plan to endorse former NAACP president Ben Jealous in his bid for Maryland governor Thursday.
The event, hosted by Our Revolution Maryland, the umbrella organization for all chapters in the state, will begin at 10 a.m. at the Silver Spring Civic Building.
Our Revolution Maryland chose to endorse Jealous after sending a questionnaire — which included questions on policy positions and qualifications — to candidates who had officially announced their bids for governor, or that were possibly considering a run as of June, said Our Revolution UMD outreach coordinator Michael Brennan. Jealous was the only one who responded.
"All of his policy positions line up with the priorities of Our Revolution — both the national branch, and the Maryland branch," said Christopher Walkup, the president of Our Revolution UMD, this university's chapter.
Our Revolution and Jealous share views on college affordability and immigration policy, among others.
When Our Revolution Maryland chapter members were surveyed, 94 percent of those who responded were in favor of endorsing Jealous, Brennan said.
"I think that generally Ben has been seen as someone, beyond even just policy positions, who people can believe in, who people can trust," said Brennan, a junior government and politics major. "There might be some people running that are very close to him policy-wise, but he just has kind of this authentic message that I think resonates with people, similarly to Bernie's message."
Walkup noted that while the approval percentage is accurate, he isn't aware of how many members actually responded to the survey, and would like to see the survey results published. Our Revolution UMD will be sending its own questionnaire to its members next semester, he said, so that the local members can decide who they'd like to support, adding that they will likely also choose Jealous.
Sanders has also vocalized his support for Jealous, who served as the co-chairman of the senator's presidential campaign in Maryland, prior to his scheduled official endorsement tomorrow morning.
"With Ben as governor, we can make health care a right, not a privilege," Sanders said in a statement. "We can create a minimum wage which is a living wage. We can stop the school-to-prison pipeline and end mass incarceration. We can make college tuition affordable, protect our environment and create good-paying jobs."
David Pontious, Our Revolution UMD's vice president, said he believes Jealous was a great surrogate for Sanders during the presidential campaign. The sophomore government and politics major called Jealous a "committed civil rights champion" while citing his experience as NAACP president and his various shows of activism with issues such as the death penalty and marriage equality.
Jealous helped convince the NAACP to embrace new issues, such as same-sex marriage, The Baltimore Sun reported in 2013. Under his leadership, the NAACP also helped to repeal the death penalty in New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland.
Jealous has also associated his ideas with those of Sanders publicly.
"Bernie understands, as I do, that now is not a time for timidity," Jealous said in a statement. "When a generation of Americans risks being worse off than those before, tied down by the lack of a livable wage, affordable college and access to quality healthcare, then our leadership must reflect the urgency of this moment. I'm running for Governor because it's time for Maryland to get back to doing big things again, but it starts with new leadership."
CORRECTION: Due to a reporting error, a previous version of this story indicated Jealous was a current surrogate for Sanders. He was a surrogate while Sanders was running for president. This story has been updated.