Political Notes: Sierra Club Backs King, New Ads for Adams and Jain

Former US Education Secretary John King (D) appeared at a gubernatorial forum hosted by Maryland Public Television earlier this week. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

The Democratic candidates for governor generally agree on the urgency of addressing climate change in Maryland, and they support many of the same measures to combat global warning.

But it often seems as if John King, the former Obama administration education secretary, has the most steadfast, comprehensive and integrated proposals to confront climate change. Case in point: When the Democratic candidates met for a televised debate earlier this week, many said they favored enacting another state gas tax holiday; King said he’d rather use the gas tax for projects that enable the state to move away from fossil fuel use for transportation.

Now, King is reaping the rewards: On Thursday, the political arm of the Sierra Club’s Maryland chapter announced it was endorsing King in the July 19 primary.

“We are facing a climate emergency, collapse of biodiversity, plastic pollution crisis all while seeing attacks nationwide on civil liberties like access to voting and women’s reproductive rights. John King knows exactly what’s at stake and is ready to proactively meet the challenges head on,” said Rosa Hance, chair of the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The group said it reached its decision after researching candidates’ records, reviewing questionnaires, and interviewing nine of the contenders for governor over several months. The Sierra Club also cited King’s work with Strong Future Maryland, a multi-issue advocacy organization that King launched in 2020.

“It’s great that so many candidates are talking about climate change and their plans to address it,” said Rich Norling, the Maryland chapter’s political chair. “John King stands out above the crowd because he has a deep understanding and strong passion to get the necessary things done. In fact, through Strong Future Maryland he has already been working in recent years on solutions to the climate crisis and environmental justice.”

In response to the endorsement, King vowed to “make Maryland a leader in the fight against climate change, net zero emissions by 2035, achieve protect the bay, and reverse long standing systemic environmental injustice.”

Two other politically-minded environmental groups, the League of Conservation Voters and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, have yet to weigh in on the gubernatorial contest.

Ads and more ads

Bowie Mayor Tim Adams, one of two Democrats running for state comptroller, launched two 30-second TV ads Thursday and says he’ll be on the airwaves through the July 19 primary.

The first ad is a shorter version of a spot he has already been running at gas stations over the past few weeks, about high gas prices.

“Can you believe the cost of a tank of gas! Wow — we need some relief,” Adams says in the ad, which was filmed at a service station. He goes on to say that as comptroller he will seek to make the state’s tax code more equitable.

“Right now, corporations are making out like bandits — gouging prices and not paying their fair share,” he says. “Let’s close tax loopholes and better fund our schools.”

The second ad is a biographical spot, about growing up poor, overcoming adversity, including a car accident that left Adams confined to a wheelchair, and building a successful business.

“Challenges don’t keep me down,” he says in the ad. “Education saved me. I went to an HBCU, got my MBA, then started what’s become one of America’s largest Black-owned businesses. I’m Tim Adams. I’ll fight for school equity because no Maryland child should be left behind. And I’ll always put you, the taxpayer, first.”

The campaign said both TV ads are a part of a six-figure ad buy that started in May. Adams is personally wealthy, and the size of his investment in his campaign could be a factor as he battles state Del. Brooke Lierman for the Democratic nomination. A poll conducted recently for the Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore showed Lierman leading Adams, 28% to 19%, with 52% of undecided Democratic primary voters.

Meanwhile, Ashwani Jain, a former Obama administration official who is running an unconventional, low-budget campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, launched his first ad of campaign — a two-minute spot that will be airing on digital platforms. The ad features the candidate speaking in front of Glen Haven Elementary School in Wheaton, one of his alma maters.

“My name is Ashwani Jain and I use he/him pronouns,” he says at the top of the ad. “A 32-year-old cancer survivor and the son of immigrants and small business owners.”

Jain goes on to lament how people are dismissing his candidacy because he is so young and has not held elective office. But he boasts he’s running a campaign “that is 100% run by residents,” and that he’s spending “90% of my time meeting voters at their homes” rather than raising money.

“Does it matter how we run our campaigns? I think it does,” he says, pleading to be a governor “who is the most accessible, accountable and transparent” in history.

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