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Just when it looked as if the 2022 midterm election would see few women running for higher office in Maryland, a crew of highly qualified and impressive candidates has stepped up and out!

Sadly, many voters do little if any research on the candidates until a week or so before they cast their ballot. Our current pattern of low turnout in midterm elections and lack of information about candidates must change if we want women representing us at the highest levels of state and federal government.

With the Super Bowl just a few days away, let’s strive to be as tenacious as Cincinnati Bengals fans and adopt a “Who Dey” state of mind and get these women to The Show!

For Governor, former Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman officially announced her bid on the Democratic ticket a few weeks ago. Naysayers will insist that getting into the race just six months before the June primary is performative, and she’s too late to have a chance of winning, that she won’t have enough money or endorsements, blah blah blah….

Really? The odds may be long with no backing from labor unions or Political Action Committees, and no queen makers in her corner, but I give her props, she deserves a ton of credit for her courage and commitment to make sure women are represented at the top of the Democratic ticket for Governor. Without Neuman, women running for executive office on the Democratic side are limited to Lieutenant Governor candidates. Neuman is showing she isn’t afraid to run no matter what obstacles are in her path. That, my friends, is what trailblazers do, so tell her story and say her name because Laura Neuman is continuing to normalize and pave the way for women in the future to run for governor as Democrats.

Wes Moore, a front-runner in the Governor’s race, elevated his chances by choosing former state delegate and congressional candidate Aruna Miller for Lt. Governor. Miller, a smart transportation engineer, is ethical, transparent, well-liked, and respected by her former constituents and other elected officials. She’s approachable, easy to talk to, and genuinely cares about her community.

I didn’t know anything about Moore until he picked Aruna as his running mate; by tapping her, he signaled he’s strategic, selecting a person who has the government experience he needs on his team and already-established relationships in Annapolis.

Tom Perez former Democratic National Committee Chair, whose major endorsements include the most powerful woman in Democratic politics Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is surprisingly trailing behind Wes Moore in fundraising.  Five days ago, he named former Baltimore City councilwoman Shannon Sneed as his running mate for Lt. Governor. Like Moore teaming up with Miller in Montgomery County, Perez strategically chose Sneed to help boost his voter base in the Baltimore region. Sneed served one term on the Baltimore City Council and then worked as a regional director leading U.S. Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen’s outreach efforts in Baltimore.  Sneed is known to be an effective communications professional and an advocate for women’s issues; she is a former journalist and has worked with Big Brothers and Big Sisters. I do not know her personally, however, if Shannon Sneed worked with U.S. Senator Van Hollen there is no question she will be a strong running mate and valuable team member who cares a great deal about Maryland. Anyone who has experienced Senator Van Hollen’s constituent services compliments his team as incredibly responsive and capable, one of the best in the state.

Monique Anderson-Walker and Nancy Navarro are not new announcements for Lt. Governor in a crowded field of strong candidates. They stepped up and out first in October 2021 with Peter Franchot and Rushern Baker signaling to Democratic voters, female running mates with a loyal base of support in their opposing home counties would help propel them to Governor, not surprising information when 57 percent of the democratic electorate in Maryland are women.  Both are known to be independent thinkers, trailblazers, and firsts, Anderson Walker the first African American Woman elected to a district County Council Member seat in Prince George’s County, Navarro the first Latina elected to the Montgomery County Council and first to serve as Council President. Anderson Walker is known as a strong member of the business community, while Navarro also served as an appointee to President Obama’s Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, where she served on the Early Childhood Education Committee.  Many Montgomery County Women were hoping Navarro would run for County Executive; however, she chose statewide office.

Speaking of experience and powerful women, there isn’t a candidate more qualified for Attorney General than Katie Curran O’Malley, who started her career as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Baltimore City. There, she prosecuted homicides and other violent crimes before being promoted as the chief of the White Collar and Economic Crimes Unit, where she served from 1999 to 2001. From there, O’Malley was appointed Associate Judge for the First District Court of Maryland. Judge O’Malley served with distinction for 20 years, establishing herself as a leader in addressing domestic violence. She is well-rounded and highly respected by her peers, and has established herself as a front-runner, both women and men are excited she stepped up to run and believe she is the most experienced and qualified candidate to replace retiring Attorney General Brian Frosh.

The most recent political announcement exciting women around the Beltway came when former Congresswomen Donna F. Edwards threw her hat in the ring to take back her seat in the 4th District. If re-elected, Edwards will have more seniority and experience than any other candidate in the race.

Edwards is the first and only Black woman ever elected to represent Maryland in Congress, and along with former U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski was the last woman to serve in Congress from Maryland. Since leaving in 2016, Edwards’ was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. She has spoken openly about her condition and how she learned to navigate the health care system, become her own advocate, and access treatment and medication that is cost-prohibitive. She has said she is now equipped in a way she was not before MS to fight for better health care for all Americans, but especially those with chronic illness.

Edwards’ other goals are bringing more money and economic development back to her district, including helping to land the future FBI headquarters in Prince George’s County, a long-time goal of Maryland lawmakers before President Trump nixed the agency’s move out of the District of Columbia. Given her base of supporters and previous congressional experience, my money is on Edwards.  If elected, she can be expected to bring more money to her district and pass more laws to benefit women and children.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones was just re-elected by her colleagues to her post for 2022. Jones holds the distinction of being both the first woman and first African American, and one of only nine women nationwide to hold the top leadership position in the House of Delegates. Jones has guided the legislature during what is arguably the most challenging period from a public health and economic standpoint since the Spanish flu and the Great Depression! In June, she is running for her seventh term representing House District 12 in Baltimore County, where she will win easily. Hers has been a calm and steady hand during a period of seismic change that in the last three years has seen the deaths of Jones’ predecessor, Speaker Michael E. Busch, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, as well as the departure by the end of 2022 of four out of six standing committee chairs in the House. Speaker Jones is making sure transitions are smooth, and the most capable people are appointed to leadership.

Women will get elected, but only if we amplify their voices; say their names; tell our sisters, brothers, friends, and others about them, and encourage everyone to vote in the primary. If they are to have a chance, we must educate ourselves and our families, friends, and neighbors about the importance and advantages of supporting qualified female candidates, beginning with campaign contributions. Next, we must work to increase both primary election and general election turnout, which are both historically low in off years. Remember, early money helps women win!

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