I don’t know what to think about Laura Neuman. The most basic of information tells me that, until she decided to run for Governor as a Democrat, she was a Republican. I know that she has a Howard County connection, serving as Chief Executive Officer, Economic Development Authority, from 2011-13. She had a brief stint as Anne Arundel County Executive. Until today, that’s about all I knew.
I have made much of my disappointment that there were no women running for Governor from the Democratic Party. Now there is one. I must admit I’m wary of someone who seems to have become a Democrat solely for a political campaign. People do change parties, of course, and it perhaps it shouldn’t be an automatic disqualifier, but, it gives me pause.
I decided to go back to what I stated as my first priority in a gubernatorial candidate way back in October of 2020. As I took a moment to consider present State Comptroller Peter Franchot, I wrote:
Maryland needs someone who is a champion for racial equity. We need to smash the current administration’s racist dog whistle policies towards Baltimore City and transform statewide education funding to support our most vulnerable populations across the state. I want to see a Democratic candidate for Governor who is unapologetically telling the truth on this and has some kind of tangible track record that shows he or she has been doing the work.
My feelings about that haven’t changed. Does Laura Neuman meet those qualifications?
The Neuman campaign released a “meet the candidate” video yesterday. There’s quite a bit of information in it about her background that I had not known. If you have time, take a look:
I am torn between wanting to call it emotionally powerful or emotionally manipulative. I’m just not sure.
I do have a gut feeling that, after watching that video, one would not be surprised to see a slogan along the lines of “Laura Neuman: because all lives matter.”
There is no doubt that Ms. Neuman has worked hard in her life and has overcome many obstacles. But is she in the race, as she says, because we have failed that little boy who lives in her old, troubled neighborhood, or because she sees herself as a viable choice for the Democrats who voted for Hogan? And there’s no reason it couldn’t be some of both, I guess.
Were she elected Governor, Ms. Neuman would be following Larry Hogan, who pundits have dubbed as a sort of “Republican for the Democrats.” What that means in reality is that she would be inheriting a state that has endured little more than gaslighting on issues of equity. The present Governor has used his “Bully Pulpit” to vilify Baltimore while failing to address the city’s legitimate needs.
That’s not the only challenge the Maryland faces right now, not by a long shot. But it’s a big one, and it’s connected to so many things: the legacy of redlining, underfunding of schools, inadequate public transportation, food deserts, generations of lead paint poisoning, how police operate in predominantly Black/Brown neighborhoods. Those aren’t issues solely in Baltimore City. They arise in various forms and combinations throughout the state. (And the country, for that matter.)
Whoever follows Hogan in Annapolis is tasked with addressing this. We’ve had eight years of missed opportunities and in some cases, outright hostility.
How does Ms. Neuman approach that? How do any of the candidates approach that? One good way to begin to do your research is to examine what they have done so far. I’ll be taking a close look at Ms. Neuman record to see what it tells me.