Political Notes: Sierra Club backs King, new ads for Adams and Jain

Former US Education Secretary John King (D) took part in a governors forum hosted by Maryland Public Television earlier this week. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates generally agree on the urgency of addressing climate change in Maryland, and they support many of the same measures to address the global scare.

But it often seems that John King, the former Obama administration education secretary, has the strongest, most comprehensive, and most integrated proposals for dealing with climate change. Case in point: When Democratic candidates met for a televised debate earlier this week, many said they favored enacting another gas tax exemption; King said he would rather use the gas tax for projects that allow the state to move away from using fossil fuels for transportation.

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

“We are facing a climate emergency, collapsing biodiversity, plastic pollution crisis, while seeing nationwide attacks on civil liberties like access to voting and reproductive rights of women. John King knows exactly what is at stake and is prepared to proactively address challenges,” said Sierra Club Maryland Chapter President Rosa Hance.

The group said it made its decision after researching candidate records, reviewing questionnaires and interviewing nine of the gubernatorial candidates over several months. The Sierra Club also cited King’s work with Strong Future Maryland, a multi-issue advocacy organization 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, political chair of the Maryland chapter. “John King stands out from the crowd because he has a deep understanding and a strong passion for doing the right things. In fact, through Strong Future Maryland, he has already worked for the past several years on solutions to the climate crisis to environmental justice.

In response to the approval, King pledged to “make Maryland a leader in the fight against climate change, achieve net zero emissions by 2035, protect the bay, and reverse longstanding 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 in the gubernatorial race.

Ads and more ads

Bowie Mayor Tim Adams, one of two Democratic candidates for state comptroller, launched two 30-second TV ads on Thursday and said he would be on the air until the 19th primary. July.

The first ad is a shorter version of a spot he’s been running at gas stations for the past few weeks about high gas prices.

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

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

The second commercial 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 hold me back,” he says in the ad. “Education saved me. I went to an HBCU, got my MBA, then started what has become one of America’s largest black-owned businesses. i am tim Adam. I will fight for educational equity because no child in Maryland should be left behind. And I will always put you, the taxpayer, first.

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

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

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

Jain goes on to lament how people reject his candidacy because he is so young and has not held elected office. But he boasts of running a campaign “that is 100% resident-led” and spending “90% of my time meeting voters in their homes” rather than fundraising.

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