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Maryland Democrat official questions whether Black candidates can win state gubernatorial race

A Democratic Party official and longtime party donor in Maryland questioned whether Black candidates can win state-wide elections, explaining her reasoning behind endorsing DNC Chair Tom Perez for governor.

Maryland state Democratic Party deputy treasurer and Democrat donor Barbara Goldberg Goldman posed the question in an email obtained by Axios.

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“So, my thinking beyond here is the age-old question: Which candidate(s) have a better chance in the General election of beating an attractive female Hogan team member for whom both Dems and Repubs have expressed genuine likability?” Goldman wrote in the email, with the subject line “Re: Perez endorsement.”

Goldman appeared to be referring to Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Schulz, who served as state labor secretary and state commerce secretary under current Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration. 

“Consider this: Three African-American males have run statewide for Governor and have lost,” she continued. “Maryland is not a Blue state. It’s a purple one. This is a face we must not ignore. In the last 20 years, only eight have been with a Democratic Governor.”

She added: “We need a winning team. IMHO.”

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There are 10 Democratic gubernatorial candidates in Maryland–Perez, former Prince George County executive Rushern Baker, former Obama Education Secretary John King, author Wes Moore, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, entrepreneur Laura Neuman, political activist Jerry Segal, and former federal government official Jon Baron.

Baker, King, and Moore are Black candidates. 

Goldman has fallen under criticism since the email surfaced, with a spokesman for Perez’s campaign telling Axios: “These hurtful and ill-conceived comments do not reflect the values of our campaign—as evidenced by Tom’s entire career to advance civil rights and expand opportunity.”

“Our campaign is building a geographically, demographically and ideologically inclusive coalition focused on electing a Democratic governor who is ready to serve all Marylanders,” the Perez spokesman said.

FILE -- John King Jr. testifies before the Senate education committee during his confirmation hearing. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

And a spokesman for Wes Moore, told Axios that thinking “should have no place in the Democratic Party in Maryland.”

“The idea that there would be skepticism about a candidate’s electability because they are Black should have no place in the Democratic Party in Maryland — a state with both incredible diversity and disparities — or anywhere else in America in 2022,” the Moore spokesperson said.

Goldman, though, seemingly apologized for her email.

“I regret making the statement,” Goldman told Axios. “It neither accurately expresses nor depicts my views, and does not represent my lifelong commitment to supporting Democratic causes and candidates.”

But the question of Black candidate electability has come up before— and not just from Goldman.

King told Axios that Democratic Party insiders have told him: “Oh, well, if there are multiple candidates of color, then it’s impossible for one of them to win.”

“Certainly, people have made that remark to me,” King told Axios. “In Maryland, we have a very diverse state and a diverse electorate, so we are well-positioned to have our first African American governor.”

He added, though, that “having served in the administration of our first Black president, one would have hoped we’d be further along in these conversations.”

Baker said while he doesn’t agree with Goldman’s comments, he said it is “a fair criticism understanding we haven’t seen it happen yet.”

“Although those candidates didn’t win, it’s not impossible,” Baker said. “They just weren’t the right candidates at the right time.” 
 

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