Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Margo Jefferson joins Kojo to discuss her new memoir and explore how her experiences growing up in Chicago frame her perspectives about race and opportunity in the United States.
A last-minute deal is met on Capitol Hill and the federal government reopens. A gubernatorial candidate in Maryland faces questions about his driving safety record and treatment of troopers assigned to him. And several high-profile members of the Virginia GOP cast doubts about the strength of their party’s ticket in this fall’s election. Join us for our weekly review of the politics, policies and personalities of the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Tom Sherwood Resident Analyst; NBC 4 reporter; and Columnist for the Current Newspapers
- Rushern Baker Executive, Prince George's County (Md.) (D)
- Vincent Gray Mayor, District of Columbia (D)
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker said he would change the team name of the Washington Redskins if he were the owner. Baker said the county is in a “catch-22 situation” with the Redskins. The team provides charitable contributions and brings significant tax revenue to the county. “We couldn’t have a better partner in the county than the Redskins organization,” Baker said.
Play This Week’s Politics Hour Quiz
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5, at American University, in Washington, welcome to "Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. I’m Kojo Nnamdi. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's a NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. He's going to be challenged today. But first, we'll offer him a challenge to see if he can figure out who we are going to be talking about as our first issue on this broadcast. We will give him an audio test. Who will we be talking about, Tom?
MR. KOJO NNAMDII can't drive 55.
MR. TOM SHERWOODHe's dead, isn't he?
NNAMDII can't drive 55.
SHERWOODI'm not a pop culture, but I think that person is dead though.
NNAMDIYeah, but who's the theme? I can't drive 55. Who will we be talking about?
SHERWOODOh, oh, oh, Doug Gansler.
NNAMDIOf course, we're talking about Doug Gansler. I can't drive 55. He is the candidate for governor of Maryland, who announced recently. But that announcement was first overshadowed in the news by the government shutdown and all that accompanied it. And when he got ready to announce that his lieutenant governor would be Prince George's County delegate to the general assembly, Jolene Ivey, that was -- some would say overshadowed. I'm sure Doug and Jolene will not say overshadowed.
NNAMDIBut there was a report, first in the Washington Post, about how the candidate had treated his staff from the governor's office, some of the, I guess, Highway Patrol or the State Patrol who had been driving him, that he is a little impatient when it comes to being driven, and wants the emergency lights turned on and the use of the -- whatever you call that on the side of the road.
SHERWOODWell, you know, I have to say, he was on the program. Was it just last week?
SHERWOODYou know, and I asked him about his personality. And he acknowledged that he has an intense personality. And, you know, there's nothing in this story that in doing this, that they hit a little old lady crossing the street or baby carriage went flying or that…
SHERWOOD…he endangered somebody. It does seem to be something in there with the police. I mean, he made, I think, politically a mistake of calling the State Police officers henchmen.
SHERWOODOr a henchman, if there's one person. But there's something that seems to be more than that. I'll tell you when he made the announcement for Ms. Ivey, and they both went to their cars and rode off, I'll tell you, if I were him, I would have gotten into my car, I would have reached over and flipped on the lights. (laugh) And then had my -- and I would have gotten in the drivers' seat and driven away at five miles an hour. Because I think this goes to his personality. And I also -- I'm not covering this race that closely yet, but, you know, just on the verge of his announcement for governor, Barbara Mikulski appears magically out of the Senate and suddenly endorses Anthony Brown…
SHERWOOD…the lieutenant governor.
SHERWOODOn the day or days before he's just going to announce Ms. Ivey, major figure in Prince George's County…
SHERWOOD…major threat in some ways to Anthony Brown -- suddenly there's this story that pops up that he has a bad driving habit with red lights.
NNAMDIYes. Jolene Ivey said, where did that story come from?
SHERWOODSo is there an orchestration by the State Democratic Party in Maryland to help orchestrate some things to undermine him? I don’t know, but I just thought it was kind of odd.
NNAMDII have a confession to make. I thought that public officials routinely used their emergency lights when they were going to an appointment and they felt that they had to be on time. Because when you live in Washington, you look out the window on Connecticut Avenue, you're always seeing parades of cars going by with their emergency lights flashing.
SHERWOODWell, don't get me started on the excessive use of emergency lights in town for people. I followed -- actually, I saw a fire department ambulance speeding through town with its lights on and I followed it to the fire station to see what was the big hurry. There wasn't one.
NNAMDIThere's never a hurry…
SHERWOODI said I didn't have the camera guys and I just got in my car and drove off. I do think there is an abuse. After a while the flashing lights become background noise like static and you don't see them and you don't think anything's happening because they're over-used by the zillion police officers in this city and everybody else who thinks they're important enough to have their grilles light up when they're driving.
NNAMDII once traveled to New Orleans with the then Secretary of State in the Clinton administration, Madeleine Albright, and that's how we got through traffic in New Orleans. I thought that was how very important people got through traffic. I did not realize that it was only supposed to be used in emergencies. Now I know better.
SHERWOODYes. It's better if the people who enforce the laws obey them.
NNAMDIYes. Okay. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Of course, the news that Doug Gansler expected this week, is that he did select Prince George's County delegate Jolene Ivey as his running mate for the gubernatorial race. So we'll be hearing a lot more from them and at some point we'll also have Jolene Ivey on the broadcast. Now onto the business of today. Our guest joining us by phone is Vincent Gray. He's the mayor of the District of Columbia. He's a Democrat. Mayor Gray, thank you for joining us.
MAYOR VINCENT GRAY…for having me, Kojo. Did I hear in the intro that this show was starring Tom Sherwood?
SHERWOODYes, sir. You're hearing is excellent.
NNAMDIThat's what we said, but, you know, I accept bribes and he bribed me to say that. So I say that all the time. (laugh)
SHERWOODYou know, Mr. Mayor, if you put your siren and lights on you could make it to the studio.
NNAMDIExactly, right. You could be in the studio.
SHERWOODI would say this, Mr. Mayor, I do not believe -- I mean I've seen your car around town many, many places. What is your policy on using the emergency lights?
GRAYI use the lights only if it's absolutely necessary to get to some place because, you know, the time is of the essence. And we rarely use it. I have used it. There's no question about it, but it's in order to get some place where people may be waiting and I probably, you know, just looking at the number of trips I've made, I bet I haven't used the lights and sirens 10 percent of the time.
SHERWOODAnd your advance guys don't do it either. I've seen them a lot.
SHERWOODAnd they're pretty respectful of the situation, too.
GRAYYeah, you're right. You see a lot of this around town. And we try and not to call any more attention to ourselves than absolutely is necessary. And I sometimes look out the window when he have the lights on, and, you know, people looking like, who in the heck is that, right? (laughter)
NNAMDII'm just thankful they don't use them on television vehicles. Mayor Gray, the 16…
SHERWOODNo, we don't. We don't want to be seen either.
NNAMDIThe 16-day federal government shutdown inflicted damage on the District that people are still accounting for, but at the end of it all, it seems there was a silver lining for the District. The final budget deal approved by Congress includes a measure that will free up D.C.'s budget from Congress and allow the city to spend local funds through next September. What specifically does this measure allow the city to do and what do you think it means for the city? Eleanor Holmes Norton, our delegate to Congress, called it historic.
GRAYWell, it is a major step forward for us, Kojo and Tom, because we won't be subjected now to the possibility of further shutdowns in this fiscal year, no matter what happens in these negotiations. But I really think we can't lose sight of the fact that we shouldn't be in this in the first place. And what we need to work on now with those who helped us get this historic moment achieved is that the city should be permanently exempted from any future shutdowns.
GRAYWe didn't do this. As you know, we declared everybody and every operation essential to the District of Columbia and kept our city open during the time the federal government was closed, but this shouldn't even be an issue in the future.
GRAYAnd of course we should come to some real conclusions about budget autonomy, budget independence for the city because it's amazing how many people don't understand that what we're talking about are the funds that belong to the taxpayers of the city. No state, no county, no city in America has to be subjected to what the District of Columbia is in this awful situation.
NNAMDIIf you have questions or comments for Mayor Gray, call us at 800-433-8850. Tom?
SHERWOODMr. Mayor, I'm sorry you're not here in the studio so you can see me say something. I want to see your face when I say, you know, it appears that you're bursting into the majority leader's press conference actually had some positive effect. You know, I was thinking you might have irritated him to the ends of the Earth with that activity. So congratulations for moving forward. Now, the citizens (laugh) -- see there.
SHERWOODI'd like to see that face, now. The citizens did pass the budget autonomy referendum, which would allow the city to do exactly what you're talking about, be independent of the shenanigans on Capitol Hill. But Darrell Issa, who was your buddy up on the Hill, said that he saw this as advisory and not as something that's enforceable. Where does that stand?
GRAYWell, you know, they're still continuing debate about what its effectiveness is and what authority it actually accords the city. Our own attorney general, you know, has a very strongly stated position on this, as well, indicating that he doesn't believe that it establishes the authority for the city to go forward. You know, I've indicated, too. I voted for it, you know, and if it works, great. But I'm very dubious about whether this, in fact, is the pathway to get us to budget autonomy.
SHERWOODYeah, you wrote a letter, in fact, saying just that.
GRAYYeah, essentially what this is, Tom and Kojo, is that a law that was established by the Congress can be changed by the people of the District of Columbia. If that were true, then I wish we could just go ahead and declare statehood, (laugh) which I think would be overwhelmingly approved by the people in this city if it were that simple. I just don’t think it's that simple. I wish it were and I think we're going to find out that it probably isn't and we're going to have to continue to wage the battle to get ourselves free of this.
SHERWOODI know you thanked a lot of people in your letter, after this most recent act by the Congress, but you specifically mentioned Mary Landrieu, the Senator from New Orleans. Did she broker any irritation the majority leader felt? Did she help smooth that over so you guys could move forward? Or how big of a role did she play?
GRAYWell, you know, Mary Landrieu has been a good friend of the city for some time. And she was a good friend in this, as well. In fact, I spoke to Senator Landrieu earlier today and thanked her, again, for the work that she did. I actually spoke to the majority leader in the immediate aftermath of the press conference up on the Hill.
SHERWOODOn the telephone call.
GRAYYeah, we had a very cordial conversation. You know, he reiterated that he is a friend of the city. He wants to see us be able to achieve independence. I thanked him for the work that he's doing. And we just moved forward from there. But, again, since you raised Senator Landrieu, I do want to again express my appreciation to her because she really has gone to bat for our city and she was very much of a champion on this budget issue in the Senate this last go around.
NNAMDIWhat do you think the entire ordeal, in general, and in particular, your intrusion on the conference that was being held by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid -- what do you think those two things had to do with putting the issue of D.C. voting rights or the lack of it into the national spotlight?
GRAYWell, I think it very much has put us into the forefront. I think more people now understand the plight of the District, than ever understood it. I think it's an amazingly large number of people who thought that the District of Columbia was essentially funded by some, you know, federal payment, you know, that was approved by the Congress. So one, I think there are more people that understand it, but I think what's essential at this stage, is that we continue to work on the education of people and keep in front of folks what is still before us, and that is being exempted from any future shutdowns should they occur in the future.
GRAYAnd then once and for all, settling what this referendum will have achieved for us. And if it does achieve budget autonomy, great. Then we should go ahead and act accordingly. But if it doesn't, we know the work that is ahead of us and we need to work with those friends that were with us before and then those new friends that we have won in the course of this, on the Hill, to get ourselves out of this.
SHERWOODMike DeBonis of the Washington Post, just the last few days -- I can't remember the precise date -- wrote a front-page story I think it was about what a good month that you've had or the number of good things going on. And you had said that you would talk about running -- this is "The Politics Hour," so that's why I'm seguing here. (laugh) You had said maybe in a few weeks or so you might make an announcement. DeBonis said on "The Bruce DePuyt Show," today that you probably have until Thanksgiving to get in or get out. Where are you at this point?
NNAMDIBefore you respond, Mr. Mayor, I think Tom Sherwood eclipsed Morami's call, because that's what Morami wanted to ask you about. So I'll have Morami jump in with the same question. Is it the same question, Morami? You're on the air.
MORAMIYes. Good morning. I'd like to mention that I watched Mayor Gray on our cable channel to really dissect his speaking skills. I'm a member of Toastmasters. And if I really want to improve my techniques, I watch him on TV because he's a great communicator. And I would like to know if he's going to be running again because I would vote for him again. I don't think that it's a good idea to change leadership. I just don’t think it's a good idea right now.
NNAMDIClearly, you've had, in Morami's view, Mayor Gray, clearly you've had at least a good week. (laughter)
GRAYWell, I actually think, by and large, when you look at the accomplishments of our administration now, with two years and nine-plus months into this administration, there's a lot of good things that have gone on. You know, go back to the things that we said we were going to do. Fiscal stability was what helped get us through this period with this budget stalemate on the Hill.
SHERWOODMr. Mayor, you're going to go through that long list. Can I just shorten it for you? (laugh)
GRAYWell, I think it's important. You guys raised the question. So I'm trying to answer the question.
SHERWOODI know. Well…
GRAYI also want to thank the caller for what she said, too. I really appreciate that.
SHERWOODEducation, economic development, crime and safety and I think there's a fourth one that you always mention, but it…
GRAYWas economic development.
SHERWOODWell, economic -- okay. I got that one. Okay.
GRAYYeah, by the way, Tom, you talked about doing a tattoo. Could you tattoo that onto your arm?
SHERWOODYes. And by the way, I'm taking bundled contributions, too. (laughter) Sorry. Anyway, what is your time table? I know you're not going to tell us anything definitive now, but the nomination process starts November 5th or 8th, somewhere around there. You have to turn petitions in in January 2nd. I know that as an incumbent you could do that pretty quickly. But is Mike DeBonis right, that Thanksgiving sounds like a drop dead deadline?
GRAYNo. I think Mike -- that was a conclusion that Mike has reached. Mike is a very astute reporter, as you know. That's a conclusion that he's reached. It's not one that I have reached at this stage, but, you know, obviously the time is becoming more compressed. And we are going to get to a decision, you know, within the next few weeks. I don't have a specific date as yet, when I'm going to make an announcement, but obviously it will be within the next few weeks because the time is becoming so compressed.
SHERWOODIf I could say so, back when all this unpleasantness of the grand jury stuff and Sulaimon stuff started and I spoke to your attorney, he said he had advised you that you couldn't change whatever had happened in the past, that you should just go forward and be the best mayor you can be because you can't change what happened in the past. I think you said something similar to that, too, is that pretty much where you are at this point?
GRAYIt is, Tom. You know, obviously…
NNAMDIWell, allow me to interrupt for a second, Mayor Gray, because I thought that's where you were for a long time. Do you think that some of us in the media and the public are also getting there?
GRAYIn terms of what, Kojo? In terms of…
NNAMDIIn terms of not focusing on your campaign problems in 2010.
GRAYOh, I think, you know, it arises periodically and…
SHERWOODIt'll come up in just a moment.
GRAY… (unintelligible) the unexpected. But I'm also pleased with the fact that people have focused on our performance. And, again, obviously, people could accuse me of not being objective, but I really think that this administration has done a good job. We've got, you know, some incredibly talented people who've done a great job.
SHERWOODWell, Mr. Mayor, I think I've said it and I've written it, that you have established a pretty good track record to run for reelection, if you choose to do so. The remaining question is, was there any cheating at the start line, whether that was by you or your campaign? And I'll make a distinction between those two. And that's what we still don't know. And if you run again, your campaign finance chairman or your chairman, every one of those people, whoever they might be, are going to be confronted with, well, what about 2010? You've never explained 2010. Does that have to be cleared up before you go forward?
GRAYWell, I think there are questions that, you know, will be asked, Tom. And we'll be prepared. I have said I did nothing, you know, I did nothing wrong from the very beginning. And I'm not going to change that position. There's no reason for me to change that position. So in terms of me answering the question of what I did or didn't do, I have said that. And I will say it again and again. You and I have had that conversation. I've had it, you know, in various shows. I've been quoted in articles to that effect.
GRAYAnd I hope what people will focus on, frankly, is what this administration has done. There are articles that have been written that talked about, you know, these issues and the administration. There really have been no issues with this administration, in terms of untoward activity. You know, you look at the things that we said we were going to do, those are the things that we have done. It's very unfortunate things happened during that campaign, but they did happen during the campaign and not during this administration's work on behalf of the people of the city.
SHERWOODAnd I hate to mention the bonus again, but very quickly -- I know we're out of time. Now, he reported that, you know, there was more grand jury action last week. And I know you're not going to comment on the grand jury thing, but I just keep feeling that it's a wet mattress hanging over all the positive things you talk about. So we'll look at it some more as we go forward.
GRAYAbsolutely. Listen, thank you all very much for having me on. And I hope we can continue to focus on the budget challenges that the city faces. This city deserves to have the same opportunities and rights accorded like every other state, county and city in America. And that's where we're trying to get to.
NNAMDIVincent Gray is mayor of the District of Columbia. He's a Democrat. Mr. Mayor, thank you for joining us.
GRAYThank you, Kojo. Thank you, Tom.
NNAMDITom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. We're going to take a short break to remind you that this is the last day of our fall membership campaign. And then when we resume "The Politics Hour," we'll be talking with Rushern Baker, executive of Prince George's County, Md. He's also a Democrat. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIIt's "The Politics Hour," starring Tom Sherwood. He is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspapers. Joining us in studio now is Rushern Baker. He is the county executive of Prince George's County, Md. He's a Democrat. Rushern Baker, thank you for joining us.
MR. RUSHERN BAKERAnd, well, Kojo, it's great to be here, as always. I like the new studio. And I want to assure Tom Sherwood that I actually do my job. That was a question.
NNAMDIWell, we like to have experienced fundraisers with us when we're in the studio…
SHERWOODHe sounds like a socialite over here. (laughter)
NNAMDI…when we're raising funds.
SHERWOODRun in, you know, appearing.
NNAMDIYes, yes. He's a man about town. We just spoke with the mayor.
SHERWOODHe's wearing this bright pink shirt, too. And I should have brought sunglasses.
BAKERThere you go. And, you know, for breast cancer awareness, our police departments are handing out these nice shirts. Let me say this, Kojo, before…
BAKERI know you're going to ask me some tough questions, so I'll be nice at the beginning. I want to congratulate you on 15 years of doing this show, and "The Politics Hour." It is something that not only I've listened to over the years, but as you know, my wife was a regular listener, and our son is now, and the family. And you've done a great job. And I hope those who are listening from Prince George's County will call in and make a donation to sustain this show, because it has done a great job in not only the District, but also Maryland.
NNAMDIThank you very much. We just spoke with Mayor Gray of Washington about the toll this government shutdown took on the District. You joined him, along with other leaders from the region, this week to assess the damage. How would you measure the impact the shutdown had on Prince George's County?
BAKERYou know, it was a tremendous impact on us because 16 percent of our workforce are federal government workers. And one of the things I said at the press conference is at a time when Prince George's County, which was disproportionately hit by the foreclosure, was coming out of that and working with the federal Department of Housing, you have this shutdown. So that means people who were now getting back on payment plans, were missing checks. It means that a department that we were working with, the federal Department of Housing, could not work with us during the shutdown.
BAKERAnd also it was about $3.2 million in 12 days of lost revenue to the folks in this shutdown. So it had a tremendous impact. And then the spillover impact for us in the District is that, you know, when people come to the Washington region, that also includes Prince George's County and National Harbor. So that means folks that we were trying to get here to see National Harbor, to see Prince George's County, to stay in our hotels, to spend money, were not coming to Washington because they assumed all of the Washington region, including us, was closed down. And it wasn't the fact.
SHERWOODAnd, you know, county worked hard on development issues. You've got 15 metro stations in Prince George's. Most of them, if not all of them, are underdeveloped. Certainly every one of them could use more development. Some have none. You were trying to get the FBI and it's 11,000 jobs come to Prince George's County, but you also want to commercially diversity. So…
SHERWOODBut you've got a lot of space there. What is the hold up? Because people don't know you? Are there racial factors? I mean, what is it? Because when you drive into Prince George's County, it's a terrific place.
BAKERIt is. I mean, I think what we've seen over the last, you know, three years, that's starting to change. Certainly, when I came in I asked the same question you did. Why haven't we developed the same way you see Arlington or Montgomery County or D.C.? Metro's here, educated work force. It doesn't make any sense. And everyone would throw up different things. They would first say, you know, your crime is high. You know, I had a…
SHERWOODParticularly inside the beltway.
BAKERInside the beltway. So I was meeting with a grocery store chain, trying to get them to come to Prince George's County, after they opened one in D.C. And they said, well, crime in the county is high. It's actually lower than the District of Columbia. And over the last three years we've seen 35-year low in crime in Prince George's County. Our homicide rate was cut in half. They said, well, you don't really invest in yourself.
BAKERI said, well, no, we do. We actually passed -- one of the first bills we passed was a $50 million economic development incentive fund that we invest, along with businesses inside the beltway. And we had this transforming neighborhood initiative where we target those six areas which happen to be inside the beltway, for turnaround. And we're building a hospital near. So we're starting to see a change in that, but it really meant that from day one I had to go out to businesses and say -- and let's, you know, I've got to be honest, part of it was they felt like you couldn't do business in Prince George's County because, you know...
BAKER...it was corruption. It was pay-to-play. So we passed a sweeping ethics reform piece of legislation. We went to businesses and said, you know what, you know, if we're serious about this -- we're so serious, we're willing to self-regulate and not have the outside come in. So I think you're starting to see that change.
BAKERAt least, you know, we potentially -- and I said this to the mayor the other day, Mayor Gray, we could have -- he talked about cranes in the air. I said, you know, all the things coming on in Prince George's County, we could have four to $5 billion worth of construction within the next three years.
NNAMDIOur guest is Rushern Baker. He is county executive of Prince George's County, Md. If you have questions or comments for him, call us at 800-433-8850. You can send email to email@example.com. And I know, like, Tom Sherwood likes to talk politics, so I'm going to go there before he decides to go there today. Jolene Ivey was named to a statewide ticket this week.
NNAMDIDoug Gansler picked her to be his running mate in the race for governor. They're going to be running against another high-profile resident of your county, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. What do you make of Doug Gansler's selection of Delegate Jolene Ivey? And does it make you any more or less inclined to endorse a ticket in this race?
BAKERYou know, don't ask me any tough questions.
BAKERYou know, when people ask me, are we going to make any endorsements, I assure them that I'm going to endorse in the delegate race in 22 where my son is running.
NNAMDIWe'll get to that.
BAKERBut, no, I think it was a smart selection on Doug's part. I mean, I -- of course, everyone knows I know Jolene very well, and Glenn very well. We're longtime personal friends. I'm the godfather of their second youngest child. And -- but as a delegate, you know, she helped lead an important piece of legislation for me and for the county around education as chair of the Prince George's House delegation.
BAKERShe did a phenomenal job. I held that job when I was there. I think it means that Prince George's County is in play. I think it benefits us to have two high-profile individuals. The lieutenant governor's been a great friend of ours in the county. He's helped with the hospital. We wouldn't be able to move that forward without his help. So it means that...
NNAMDINow, this guy is auditioning for secretary of state right here.
SHERWOODNo. I think I just saw Solomon's baby come past through here.
BAKERSo it means for us in the county, it's a great time when we have -- we're going to get the attention that I think we should get, you know.
SHERWOODYou're going to become the Doug Wilder of Maryland. You're not going to make an endorsement till the last dramatic moment. There will people, you know, dancing in the street, and you'll make a big...
BAKERYou know, Doug and I did go to the same law school.
NNAMDIYeah, this is true. Will you ultimately make an endorsement in this race?
BAKERI will. I think that people, you know, expect, you know, the leaders of a county to say who they think would make -- provide the best help for Prince George's County. I think we're many...
SHERWOODWell, you got -- there's a long time till June 24, but you'll do it -- do you think you'll do it soon, by the end of the year or early, or are you -- not sure why you would be waiting.
BAKERWell, I think I want to see -- I mean, the campaigns have just now started. The tickets have formed, except for Heather Mizeur who hasn't picked her running mate. But the campaigns are just now getting started. There are many questions we have in Prince George's County. And I've said this to both candidates that, you know, my selection is not a personal selection. It's as county executive. I'm given a certain stature by that position. So I have to use it to benefit Prince George's County. And I'm going to select the person that...
NNAMDIWell, take off your Prince George's County hat for a second and put on your politician or political analyst hat for a second because Anthony Brown chose as his running mate the county executive of Howard County. A lot of analysts seem to feel that Doug Gansler needed somebody from that area, maybe Baltimore, who would be his running mate. How...
NNAMDIHow does having somebody from Prince George's County, as opposed to having -- how do you win without somebody from that area from, say, Baltimore?
BAKERWell, certainly I think the attorney general has his own strategy on how he's going to ultimately win the race. But I think what he saw was -- and what he's saying by selecting Delegate Ivey is that Prince George's County is in play. And he's recognizing...
SHERWOODDebated in play by doing...
BAKERYes, he did. I mean, and to be honest, he made it in play. But, you know, the population in the county is the largest bloc of democratic votes in any place in the state. You literally cannot win in a Democratic primary without having a significant presence in Prince George's County. And I think by doing that -- you know, and like I said, I don't know what his strategy is. But I'm sure that came into play.
SHERWOODIt makes him fight -- it makes Anthony Brown fight on his home turf.
BAKERIt does. I mean...
SHERWOODYou can't just assume that people in Prince George's County are going to come out for him 'cause Jolene has her own constituency.
BAKERIt makes it very, very interesting for the folks here. You know, Glenn was a state's attorney for eight years. And Delegate Ivey's been not only a delegate but chair of the Prince George's Delegation. But Anthony, you know, as I said, he's a delegate there. He's been a strong lieutenant governor, so...
NNAMDIWhat are the issues that you feel are most important for those candidates in this -- how will you be measuring them up to make your ultimate preference?
BAKERWell, for us, you know, the critical issues are around transportation and infrastructure. As Tom, you know, asked the question about how we develop in Prince George's County, well, we can't develop around those Metro stations without having dollars from the state for infrastructure. So that's important to us. Who's going to be the secretary of transportation? What relationship would that be like?
BAKERI've also told them -- I have a great working relationship with the governor. He's been a terrific partner. He understands the, you know, the trials and tribulations of being an executive. And I can call him and get help on education -- that's going to be important to us. How do we move it? -- healthcare, building not only the hospital, so there are a number of issues. The Purple Line, I'd like for that to start in Prince George's County. So there are a number of issues that we're going to go.
SHERWOODAnd some people would like the Purple Line just to start.
BAKERYes. I would like that, too.
NNAMDIPut on your headphones, please, because there's another issue that Shirley in Upper Marlboro would like to address. Shirley, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SHIRLEYHello. How's everybody doing this morning? I'm hoping everyone is having a peaceful day thus far.
NNAMDISo far. But you can change all of that.
SHIRLEYRushern, Hon. Rushern Baker, you are my...
SHIRLEYYou are my Facebook buddy, so we know each other.
SHIRLEYMy question is, do you see anything in the future as far as affordable housing for Prince George's? I know that Charles County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Anne Arundel, D.C. -- I think everyone have affordable housing except Prince George's.
BAKERYou know, Shirley, that is an excellent question. We actually just had that part of our discussion with our executive staff, and that is we're looking at quality affordable housing throughout Prince George's County, but especially around our Metro stations. So part of the hospital deal is in building the hospital, we're going to also look at affordable housing around that, around the Metro. So, yes, we are looking at that. And I want to make sure in Prince George's County we provide quality affordable housing to keep the residents where they are.
SHERWOODOK. Well, let's go to an easier subject -- Redskins.
SHERWOODWashington Redskins, you said this week -- I think for the first time -- that if you owned -- you took the President Obama's position, if you owned the team, you actually said you would change it. President's still evolving. He said that he would consider changing it.
NNAMDIBut the president doesn't run the risk of losing the team in his jurisdiction.
SHERWOODThat's true. The team play -- it actually is -- I think it's a Virginia corporation with the Washington name that plays in Maryland, something like that. But, you know, Charles Krauthammer, the very conservative columnist for Washington Post, says today in his column that, whether you like it or not, it would just be simple decency to change the name. What is the reaction you've gotten since you've told Channel 5, Matt Ackland and me the other day what you feel about the Redskins? What's been the reaction?
BAKERWell, needless to say that, you know, people feel strongly about the Redskins. It's their hometown team. But let me say this -- and one of the things that did not come out is -- and I tried to emphasize -- you know, we couldn't have a better partner in the county than the Redskins organization, you know, not only from Read, across Prince George's County, where they opened up the stadium, not only for breast cancer awareness -- and they've been there.
BAKERThey've been terrific partners for us in every facet since I've been county executive. And they also came out on a very critical issue that was controversial for us. And that was the gaming issue. They didn't have to do that. They did that because they felt it was in the best interest of the community. So I don't want people to mistake, you know, their willingness to be good corporate citizens -- and have been.
BAKERMy statement was, if -- and I don't. It's a private corporation. It's privately owned. But I was asked the question, would I change the name if I owned the team? And I said, yes. But I don't own the team. It's a decision that the owner has to make with the league. But that -- I don't want to take away from, you know, the work that they've done.
SHERWOODIt does seem that there's been -- this issue has come up and fallen back any number of times. But now it seems to be catching more steam. And I know that even next month, President Obama is going to have representatives of the tribal nations in the country -- there are 566 federally-recognized tribal nations in the country.
SHERWOODThey're going to have a huge event here in Washington, right in November. I just think -- I don't know if Dan Snyder will be in Florida or what. But I think it's going to just keep building up with this. And it's a business. I think Prince George's gets, like, $20 million a year or so.
BAKERYeah. I mean, it is huge for us in terms of tax revenues that come in. They're very -- but, you know, and they give back a lot. And so, you know, you're in a catch-22 situation there. But in terms of our relationships and working with the county, they've been terrific.
SHERWOODThey haven't fussed at you for doing that -- I know you got to go. Have they fussed at you -- has anyone from the Redskins organization fussed at you?
BAKERNo. I don't know that -- you know, everyone has their opinion and, more so, people coming up to me expressing their opinion to me as to whether they should change their name or not.
NNAMDIWell, you can't hold two offices at the same time. But some guy using your name is seeking the seat in the state House, representing the state's 22nd district. Are you familiar with Rushern Baker IV?
BAKERI think I've heard of him before.
NNAMDIYour son is seeking that seat and presumably your endorsement. Will you endorse him, or does he have to do his chores first?
BAKERI told him, you know, I want to see what kind of organization he puts together and how hard he's going to work. But, you know, in a serious note, I'm very proud. I mean, I'm surprised. As you know, Kojo, we've talked about this, you know...
NNAMDIYes. Well, Tom and I both have sons. None of them decided to go into broadcasting or television.
SHERWOODMy son ran to the bar business.
BAKERWell, you know, when he went to New York to study. He went to an exclusive school in New York for college, Cooper Union, where our youngest child is, my wife said, well, that's it, he'll never get involved in politics, one, because my wife made every child go out there and pass out flyers of their dad. And, actually, he had the experience of having me lose one of my county executive races on his birthday.
BAKERBut he came back. And, you know, I asked him in -- to be quite honest and serious, I asked him, after his mom got sick and he got his master's from Yale, to come spend the year with us just to help out and not thinking he would stay in this area. And I think he started teaching in that area, in the College Park area.
NNAMDIAnd he has stayed. And we're...
BAKERAnd he stayed.
NNAMDIWe're out of time. But there's an Alzheimer's event that you're taking part in.
BAKERYes. On Oct. 26, we're doing the Alzheimer's walk. There's Team Baker. I'd love for everybody to come out.
NNAMDIRushern Baker, he is the executive of Prince George's County, Md. He's a Democrat. Thank you so much for joining us. Tom Sherwood is our resident analyst. He's an NBC 4 reporter and a columnist for the Current Newspaper. Thank you, Tom, for joining us.
SHERWOODHave a great weekend.
NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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