MARYLAND - Ben Jealous has a wealth of experience in political life and yet Governor Larry Hogan suggested, in an interview with 47 ABC on Wednesday, that he's never really been involved here in Maryland.
Democrat Ben Jealous has no problem telling you about himself and what he's all about. In short its business, civil rights and responsibility. But he's also not afraid of a challenge, like going toe-to-toe with Republican Governor Larry Hogan.
"His biggest fear is that we turn out voters because he only became governor because we had the lowest democratic turnout since 1942. My biggest talent is turning out voters. That's why we will win," said Jealous.
Ryan Eldredge asked Jealous how he feels knowing that Hogan made comments about him such as, "He's never really been involved here in Maryland before...I've never met the guy...I know his ideas are pretty far out there...He talks a lot about a lot of things that sound good but I don't know how he's gonna pay for it."
Jealous responded, "Governor Hogan is living in a fantasy life right now because the reality of running against me. I'm sure is not a pleasant one for him. I was named Marylander of the Year by the Baltimore Sun, 5 years ago, because of my track record of getting big things done in our state capitol. Abolishing the death penalty, passing marriage equality, passing the dream act. I played key roles in all of those battles while turning out voters in a big way in 2012. All across this country. All across this state."
Campaigning everywhere will be important for Jealous, who has made a name for himself in Baltimore and D-C. But he could only talk in generalities about our area, and even acknowledged that he lacks hands-on experience on the Eastern Shore.
47 ABC's Ryan Eldredge asked him about his experience on the Eastern Shore and how he plans to represent the people here.
"I believe that you have to listen before you lead. I started off 500 days ago listening to people all over the shore as part of a 24 county tour of our state. And it's because I listened that I was able to win the support of activists throughout the shore and win every county," said Jealous.
47 ABC followed up with a question about what's happening in Somerset County.
Jealous responded, "When I'm governor, we won't have any forgotten people or forgotten neighborhoods or counties. Our greatest resources is our people and we've failed in too many zip codes to properly invest in our children. And that means parents have to sit and watch the pain of their children's dreams dying right in front of them."
Regardless of his handle on issues across the shore, one thing is clear, Jealous is ready to push the Governor on the issues at the Eastern Correctional Institution and he's having meetings with officials and correctional officers to develop a plan.
"We have a responsibility. This governor has broken a promise to those workers, to make sure that they are safe and make sure the inmate to officer ratio isn't outrageous. And right now they are breaking promises. Right now they are being forced to work overtime. Right now their families are suffering which is why their families are protesting."
"When I'm governor we will get it under control and we will look at staffing and inmate levels. What we know is, our prisons shouldn't be used as a panacea for drug addiction or homelessness or mental illness. We can all agree there are better ways to deal with those issues. And when I'm governor we will shift our policies, as I helped other states do, to lower our inmate population while getting more dangerous people off the street. Because when you send addicts to rehab and the mentally ill to get service they need and you find homeless people a home, guess what? Your prison population goes down in ways that make us all safer."
Some of Jealous' biggest critics on the right, say that his ideas are pie in the sky and that there's no way to fund the ideas that he has. Whether those ideas are with healthcare, the prison system or college tuition. 47 ABC asked where Jealous plans to get some of the money to make those changes.
"As a small business person, I reject the notion that it always costs more to do better. Sometimes you just gotta do better to do better. This campaign is about getting our priorities straight. As a state. The richest state in the richest country on the planet. When it comes to education, it's much less than we have a money problem. It's a priority problem. The money is there but we spend it on other things."
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