Rushern Baker suspends campaign for Maryland governor

Former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said Friday that he’s suspending his campaign for Maryland governor, effective immediately.

In a series of tweets, Baker cited “financial challenges” his campaign is facing “in the coming weeks.”

“My running mate Nancy Navarro and I have made the difficult, yet necessary, decision to suspend our campaign activities, effective immediately,” the former Prince George’s County executive tweeted.

Baker was low on funds ahead of the final stretch toward the primary on July 19. His campaign took public financing and small donor money. He told WTOP’s Kate Ryan that the suggestion a candidate needs needs to take big donor money or dark money was “frustrating.”

“I just never really felt like, and I think we never felt like, the party embrace,” Baker said. “The whole notion of … public campaign financing, we think it’s the way we should be moving, which is why we were the first campaign for statewide office that actually has had a legitimate chance of winning.”

He said it was key to seeing more reforms, from an environmental arena to getting guns off the street.

“But the reality is, with public financing, it doesn’t allow you to raise a lot of money quickly,” Baker said, adding that there was concern over being able to pay staff and running into debt.

The former county executive’s team recently reported having less than $100,000 on hand, according to Maryland Matters, which is dwarfed by the millions amassed by several of his rivals in the race, who included Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, author and former nonprofit CEO Wes Moore and former U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

There was also the issue of being able to compete in media ads.

“We’ve seen the realities of what happens if you don’t have the resources to go up on TV, and do heavy digital, and so while we could game out a possibility of us winning, the reality without at least half a million dollars or another $1.1 million, we weren’t going to be able to match what everybody else was doing on the air,” Baker said.

“And so that means that we certainly could rally Montgomery County and Prince George’s County and make a good show. But at the end of the day, is it going to be enough to win? And idea of this process is actually to win the nomination. And then to put yourself in a situation where you can win the general.”

Baker told WTOP he and Navarro looked at the situation and decided it would be “irresponsible” to ask staff to stay on when they knew there was a possibility they wouldn’t get paid.

“So we made an adult decision. It’s hard, it hurts. But I think at the end of the day, it’s the right one,” Baker said.

As a participant in the state’s public financing system, Baker is suspending — rather than ending — his candidacy. He said he would consider a return to the campaign trail in the unlikely event that donations increased dramatically.

Maryland Matters reported that if Baker doesn’t resume his campaign, he’s likely to endorse one of the nine remaining candidates. He expects to throw his support behind a candidate who has the financial resources to be competitive in November. “We’ll sit back and analyze what makes sense. But I can’t see a scenario where I don’t [endorse]. People want to know what you think.”

WTOP’s Kate Ryan and Maryland Matters contributed to this report.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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