Campos switches backing from Jackson to Baker
Prince George's County Council member Will Campos (D-Hyattsville), who represents District 2 in the northern part of the county, has switched allegiances in the Democratic primary race for county executive.
Campos, who had previously backed Sheriff Michael Jackson, has switched to Rushern L. Baker because of concerns about Jackson's management of the sheriff's department.
"I have had a good working relationship with Sheriff Jackson over the years, but with each new revelation it became harder and harder to justify to myself and my constituency why I was supporting his candidacy," Campos said in a statement issued by the Baker campaign Wednesday.
Campos, who is considered a progressive lawmaker, has served on the council since winning a special election in 2005. His support is likely to help Baker among residents of his multi-ethnic district.
Baker and Jackson are widely viewed as the frontrunners in the five-person race for executive to replace Jack Johnson (D), who is barred by term limits from running. The other Democratic candidates are County Council member Sam Dean, Del. Gerron Levi and Henry Turner, a developer and businessman. In heavily Democratic Prince George's, winning the Sept. 14 Democratic primary usually ensures election in November.
Jackson has been sheriff for the past eight years and has the support of many of Jack Johnson's backers, though Johnson himself has not come out and formally endorsed Jackson. He was able to garner support from only one state senator, Nathaniel Exum; Baker is backed by five others in the eight-member state Senate delegation, including C. Anthony Muse, a popular lawmaker and pastor from the southern part of the county.
Campos said in an interview that he had becoming increasingly concerned about issues in Jackson's office. In recent weeks, the sheriff's department has come under scrutiny in a domestic violence case and in a case involving one of his top deputies who was accused of embezzlement.
Campos said it was still a tough decision to make. "I still consider Mike a friend, and certainly it is nothing against him," but he said that the "different investigations, the unfortunate events, it was a little tougher to justify, especially to my constituents, why I was supporting Michael Jackson." Campos said he had been thinking about his possible switch for a week before contacting Baker and Jackson on Tuesday to tell them of his plans.
Baker said in a statement that he was happy to have Campos's backing.
"Will has always been the voice of fundamental fairness on the County Council. I welcome his support and energy as we make this county great for all of its residents."
Jackson spokeswoman Karen DeWitt labeled Campos's decision "politics," and said that Jackson attributed the switch to what she said was Campos's unsuccessful effort to get Jackson to back Victor Ramirez in the local state Senate Democratic primary race.
Jackson is backing David Harrington, the incumbent. In a twist though, Harrington is backing Baker in the executive's race, not Jackson.
This post has been updated since it was first published.
Miranda S. Spivack
September 1, 2010; 1:53 PM ET
Categories: 2010 Elections , Miranda Spivack , Prince George's County
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