Baker Proposes Expanding Social Services During Tour of Montgomery County Homeless Shelter with New Running Mate

Prince George's County executive explained why he picked a former Baltimore mayoral candidate to run for lieutenant governor

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Elizabeth Embry, right, and Rushern Baker, center, listen to Michael Smith Jr., left, tell his story about how the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless and the county's men's shelter helped him secure an apartment and overcome three years of homelessness

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker expressed his admiration for Montgomery County’s efforts to provide social services to its vulnerable population during a Tuesday tour of the county’s homeless shelter for men in Rockville.

It was one of the first stops Baker made after announcing Tuesday morning that he has selected former Baltimore mayoral candidate Elizabeth Embry as his running mate. Embry, who is seeking the post of lieutenant governor, was at his side Tuesday as the two listened to officials from the county’s Coalition for the Homeless explain their efforts to eradicate homelessness for veterans locally.

“This is a great opportunity to see what you’ve done here and for us to try to duplicate it statewide,” Baker said.

In an interview after the tour, Baker said that if elected governor he’d like to use more state funds to help counties across the state expand their social service offerings.

“If you look at Montgomery County, it’s been fortunate that [it’s] one of the wealthiest counties in one of the wealthiest states in the nation and they put their money where their heart is—into social services,” Baker said. “But throughout the state we have these same issues as well.”

He noted that Prince George’s County can’t devote the same amount of resources to social services that Montgomery does, but suggested that state assistance could help other counties implement similar programs.

Baker, 59, also explained why he chose Embry, 40, as his running mate. He said she has experience and an understanding of Baltimore that he doesn’t.

Embry finished third in a field of 13 Democratic candidates running for mayor in the city in 2016. She also worked as deputy state’s attorney under state Attorney General Brian Frosh and was the chief of the department’s criminal division. She resigned from her position earlier this week to focus full time on the gubernatorial campaign with Baker.

“I picked somebody I would vote for, for governor, who not only can help me win the election, but more importantly can help me govern and change the dynamics that we see around the state,” Baker said.

Embry said she was a “big admirer” of Baker before he asked her to be his running mate.

“The better I got to know him, the more and more I was convinced he should be governor and I should help him do that,” Embry said and then explained how she believes she can assist his campaign. “One is help him in the Baltimore region and make sure he’s meeting and connecting with everyone there. He’s the kind of person if you meet him, you’re going to love him, so it’s a matter of getting him connected with as many people as possible. Also I’ll just be someone who can go all over the state and share the burden of campaigning.”

Baker’s choice of Embry came out a day after two of his competitors for the Democratic nomination announced their own lieutenant governor choices. Baltimore technology entrepreneur Alec Ross chose Denizens Brewery co-owner Julie Verratti of Silver Spring, while state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Kensington) chose former Martin O’Malley administration official Luwanda Jenkins.

Last week, Baltimore attorney James Shea selected Baltimore City Council member Brandan Scott to run with him. Former NAACP President Ben Jealous chose former Maryland Democratic Party Chair Susan Turnbull of Bethesda as his lieutenant governor running mate in November.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and former Michelle Obama official Krishanti Vignarajah are the two remaining Democratic gubernatorial candidates who haven’t announced a running mate. They must do so in order to file to run for governor before the Feb. 27 filing deadline.

Baker has received support from members of Montgomery County’s political establishment by securing endorsements from Sen. Chris Van Hollen, County Executive Ike Leggett and Frosh.

Embry said Tuesday that while working in the attorney general’s office she helped prosecute two pill mills in the Baltimore area, investigate prison corruption and handle a human trafficking case in Prince George’s County.

She said one of her priorities on the campaign trail will be emphasizing policies to reduce violent crime and gang activity in the state.

In a January poll by Gonzales Research, Baker led the other Democratic candidates in the gubernatorial race with about 24 percent of support from likely Democratic voters. The poll put him 10 points ahead of his closest competitors—Kamenetz and Jealous—who both received about 14 percent of support. However, the poll found about 33 percent likely voters were undecided. The other candidates in the race each polled at less than 5 percent.

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