Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous announced Wednesday he has chosen former Maryland Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull as his running mate for lieutenant governor.
Turnbull, who lives in Bethesda, was the chair of the state Democratic Party from 2009 to 2011. She’s also a former vice chair of the Democratic National Committee, a position she held from 2005 to 2009.
“Susie, like me, is someone who knows how to pull folks together to build robust coalitions,” Jealous said on a Facebook Live video Wednesday morning. During the video, there was a loud noise, which Jealous said was a car crash outside. They ended the video after about a minute and later deleted it from the page.
During a longer second take, Jealous said Turnbull would push for policies he has promoted during his campaign, such as raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour, handling the opioid crisis, and ensuring that casino and lottery money is used to improve schools in the state.
“Maryland needs to do big things again and I have every confidence that Ben Jealous and I are going to make that happen,” Turnbull said in the second take. “We know that our schools shouldn’t have gone from 1 to 5 in the rankings. We know gun violence and opioid addition that is rampant in our state needs to be stopped now.”
Hello everyone! If you saw our first take we wanted to let you know that everyone in the car accident outside is okay! But I wanted to reintroduce my running mate, Susan Turnbull, former Chair of the Maryland Democratic Party and master coalition-builder who is joining my ticket as candidate for Lieutenant Governor!
Posted by Ben Jealous on Wednesday, November 29, 2017
Neither Jealous, 44, nor Turnbull, 65, have run for public office before.
Turnbull said in an interview that she has plenty of political experience.
“I’ve worked for more than 40 years at all levels of government,” Turnbull told Bethesda Beat Wednesday morning. “I’ve advised people from city council members to the president of the United States. I’ve advocated for legislation to push government to be responsive to people’s needs.”
She said she first met Jealous, a former president of the NAACP, when she was invited to discuss state politics with him.
“When we met, it clicked,” Turnbull said. “I saw him as having a lifetime of elevating everyday voices.”
Turnbull is a well-known state politics insider, but it’s not clear if the general public knows much about her.
American University Professor David Lublin, who blogs about county politics on Seventh State, hinted at her being Jealous’s pick in a post on his blog Tuesday. He wrote that Turnbull could help Jealous with voters in Montgomery County and with raising money around the state. However, he wrote, her “status as a party insider cuts against Jealous’s efforts to campaign as an outside challenger to the establishment.”
Jealous, who supported Bernie Sanders during the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, has been actively courting Hillary Clinton voters. In October, he received the endorsement of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who was a surrogate for Clinton during the campaign.
Jealous previously told Democrats gathered at an early morning event in Silver Spring in August before the endorsement was formally announced that Booker’s support would show he can unite two sides of the Democratic Party—the progressive wing that supported Sanders and the Democrats who voted for Clinton in the state’s primary by a 2-to-1 majority over Sanders.
Turnbull's previous political work included helping implement the DNC’s 50-state strategy that propelled Barack Obama to the presidency and later organizing a grassroots campaign to re-elect Martin O’Malley as governor and Barbara Mikulski as U.S. senator in 2010 in Maryland, according to Jealous’s campaign.
Turnbull also is a co-founder of Emerge Maryland, a program that recruits and trains women to run for public office.
Turnbull, who goes by Susie, served as chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs from 2014 to 2016 and as chair of the Board of Trustees of Jewish Women International from 2009 to 2013.
Other Democratic candidates seeking to unseat Republican Gov. Larry Hogan include Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Kensington), tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, Baltimore attorney James Shea, consultant Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and former Michelle Obama aide Krishanti Vignarajah. None of the other candidates have publicly announced running mates. The Democratic primary is June 26.