Photo by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

Ex-NAACP president Ben Jealous is set to announce his candidacy today for the Maryland governor’s office, becoming the second official candidate in what promises to be a crowded field of Democratic contenders challenging Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

Jealous, 44, has been building hype for the official announcement on social media, promoting an event planned this morning at Baltimore Blossoms Studio on Dolfield Avenue near the W. Coldspring Metro Station. He also released a campaign video yesterday centered around the themes of dreaming big and creating opportunity for all Marylanders.

YouTube video

In interviews with the Trice Edney News Wire (via The Bullhorn) and The Baltimore Sun, Jealous touted his successful tenure leading American’s largest civil rights group representing African-Americans. During his five years as the youngest-ever president and CEO of the Baltimore-based NAACP, the organization pushed lawmakers to work with then-Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley to abolish the death penalty, officially backed legalizing same-sex marriage, took a stand against stop-and-frisk policing and supported the DREAM Act allowing undocumented students to remain in the country to attend college.

He stepped down from his NAACP post in 2013 and later became a partner at social impact investment firm Kapor Capital. He made headlines last year for backing Bernie Sanders in the presidential election.

“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 yesterday.

In all of his optimism, Jealous faces some stiff competition. As of today, only he and tech expert and former Hillary Clinton staffer Alec Ross will have officially entered the Democratic primary race. However, Baltimore County and Prince George’s County Executives Kevin Kamenetz and Rushern Baker, former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler and U.S. Rep. John Delaney, among others, are expected to jump in soon.

There’s also the fact that, despite presiding over a mostly blue state, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is pretty wellliked. Recent polls from varied sources have shown he has widespread support across the state.

In his interview with the Sun, Jealous said Hogan will suffer in 2018 for not speaking out against President Donald Trump’s agenda, including his stubborn budget proposal to defund the Chesapeake Bay Program, and for scrapping projects that would benefit majority-black Baltimore, like the Red Line and the redevelopment of State Center.

According to the Trice Edney News Wire, Jealous is confident Maryland’s collective pushback against a Trump-aligned governor will be strong enough to unseat him in 2018:

In this era of President Trump, they can only remember having a president that is competent to serve. And now they see the impact of having a president that is quite the opposite. So long as we turn out Democratic voters who are used to voting in gubernatorial elections, there’s almost no way that he can win.

Jealous will make the news official at the Ashburton florist shop owned by his cousin this morning. The announcement is set for 10 a.m., according to Facebook.

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...