Photo by AFGE, via Wikimedia Commons

Bernie Sanders is feeling the Ben.

The independent Vermont senator will be in Maryland this week to publicly endorse former NAACP president Ben Jealous as a 2018 gubernatorial candidate. The pair are set to appear together in Silver Spring tomorrow morning at a rally sponsored by Our Revolution Maryland, a national progressive group that supported Sanders during his presidential bid last year.

Jealous this morning invited the public to join them for the rally that will call for the civil rights leader to be Maryland’s next governor.

Join us Thurs. in Silver Spring @10am! We just doubled RSVP list size. So if it said “full” when you tried please try again! #OurRevolution

— Ben Jealous (@BenJealous) July 12, 2017

Sanders, a popular U.S. senator who lost out to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, gave a glowing pre-endorsement for Jealous in a statement, via The Washington Post.

“I am proud to endorse Ben Jealous for governor of Maryland,” he said. “With Ben as governor, we can make health care a right, not a privilege. We can create a minimum wage which is a living wage. We can stop the school-to-prison pipeline and end mass incarceration. We can make college tuition affordable, protect our environment and create good-paying jobs.”

In some ways, Sanders is just returning the favor. Jealous endorsed him for president in February of last year and backed the Vermont politician in national news spots, helping him draw additional support from black voters.

Jealous threw himself into the running in late May, citing his policy experience from leading the nation’s largest group representing African-Americans. As leader of the NAACP, he pushed lawmakers and then-Gov. Martin O’Malley to abolish the death penalty, backed legalizing same-sex marriage, spoke out against stop-and-frisk policing and supported allowing undocumented students to remain in the country to attend college.

“I want to protect the Obama legacy, bring Bernie’s dreams to reality, and build a future for Maryland that harnesses our shared hopes and dreams,” Jealous said in a statement to the AP in May.

Jealous is one of two progressive gubernatorial candidates seeking to unseat Gov. Larry Hogan next year by rallying the far-left side of Maryland’s Democratic Party. The other is State Sen. Richard Madaleno of Montgomery County, who hasn’t formally announced his candidacy yet, but told supporters at a rally in May that he’d be gunning for the governor’s seat.

Jealous is also among several candidates who’ve never served in elected office. He’s joined by local attorney Jim Shea, tech entrepreneur and former Clinton aide Alec Ross and perennial activist candidate Ralph Jaffe.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker has also joined the race. Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, U.S. Rep John Delaney and former Attorney General Douglas Gansler have also been fielded as potential candidates.

Sanders pulled nearly 34 percent of the vote during Maryland’s Democratic presidential primary last year, while Clinton cruised to a win with a 63.5 percent share, according to the State Board of Elections.

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Ethan McLeod

Ethan McLeod is a freelance reporter in Baltimore. He previously worked as an editor for the Baltimore Business Journal and Baltimore Fishbowl. His work has appeared in Bloomberg CityLab, Next City and...