At the University of Maryland’s Stamp Student Union, unlike in the state at large, Democrat Ben Jealous won soundly over Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
Jealous got 261 votes to Hogan’s 109 at Stamp, despite losing by double digits statewide.
The former NAACP president would have become the first black governor in Maryland’s history. But he trailed throughout the race, even after winning his party’s nomination in June by more than 10 percentage points.
Jealous ran on a progressive platform, focused on combating mass incarceration, advocating for universal health care and marijuana legalization and increasing school funding.
He has been a staunch advocate for raising the state’s minimum wage to $15 from the current $10.10 per hour, an increase he believes can help stimulate the state’s economy. He also touted his plan to allow all Maryland high school graduates to attend community college tuition-free, which he extended to residents covered under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
[Read more: Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin elected to third term]
While Jealous routinely came under fire during the campaign as being “too extreme” for Maryland, many voters at this university felt he was the right fit.
“I was influenced by our current social problems,” said Kelsey Winters, an architecture graduate student. “I mostly voted for people who were pro-helping … minorities and low-income people.”
In the end, the Democrat wasn’t able to unseat Hogan, who touted his bipartisan accomplishments in office, largely steering clear of Trump era controversy.
Ben Colebrook, president of this university’s College Republicans chapter, said he was “ecstatic.”
“[Marylanders] saw how polarizing Ben Jealous was and how great Gov. Hogan has been in his last four years, the wonderful things he’s done for the state, and they wanted more of it,” the junior computer science and math major said.
Sydney Poretsky, president of the university’s College Democrats chapter, said she feared the next four years under Hogan may look at bit different, since the governor no longer has to worry about being re-elected. She predicted “a shift toward a more conservative governorship,” and said she’s concerned about a potential “Republican redistricting effort” beginning after the 2020 census.
“My biggest fear is that when candidates don’t necessarily have to worry about the re-election is when their true colors really do come out,” the senior communication and Spanish major said.
Jealous made a couple of campaign stops in College Park last month to rally young voters at this university and help increase voter turnout.
On Oct. 6, Jealous enlisted the help of his longtime friend, comedian Dave Chappelle, for an event at Hoff Theater in Stamp Student Union, where the nominee spoke about his platform.
Less than a week later, Jealous stumped with U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) at Cornerstone Grill and Loft. Booker, considered by many a rising star in the Democrat party and a potential 2020 presidential nominee, told the crowd that “Ben Jealous is the better candidate.”
Senior finance major Avani Katta cast her ballot for Ben Jealous, who she said drew her in when he spoke at Cornerstone. She highlighted his environmental platform, which includes expanding the use of renewable energy, and said his message was all about “bettering society not only today, but also tomorrow.”
Keri Callaghan’s vote for Jealous was because of his stance on issues like women’s rights and gun control.
“People who are going to be an activist … [on] those types of issues are really important to me,” the junior communication major said. “I definitely looked for that, especially for governor.”
Melissa Kelley, a freshman electrical engineering major, was among the more than 100 people who voted for the incumbent.
“I care a lot about working with different parties to get things done, which is why I voted for Hogan,” she said.
Jealous has also joined in the political furor surrounding this university. Last week, after the initial Board of Regents decision to retain head football coach DJ Durkin, Jealous called for the firing of both Durkin and athletic director Damon Evans.
“The University of Maryland has become a national embarrassment for putting the agenda of a few wealthy football boosters ahead of the health and safety of its student athletes,” he said in a statement.
Despite being the Democratic nominee in what is considered a “blue state,” Jealous became the second straight Democratic candidate to lose to Hogan. In 2014, then-Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown fell short as Hogan took office in an upset victory.
Not even a wave of high-profile endorsements — from former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as current Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), among others — was enough to propel Jealous to victory.
After using much of his campaign funds for the Democratic primary, Jealous was significantly outspent by Hogan in the final months of his campaign. Jealous ended October with only $275,000, while Hogan had almost $3.3 million to spend, according to The Washington Post.
Staff writers Rachel Hunt and Angela Roberts, as well as freelance writer Samantha Hawkins, contributed to this report.