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By Abby Cruz
SILVER SPRING — Supporters and curious passersby filled McGinty’s Public House and Restaurant on Saturday afternoon, waiting for the arrival of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous as well as his longtime friend and well-known actor/comedian Dave Chappelle.
People gathered around the stage to hear remarks from fellow Democrats such as Montgomery County Executive candidate and County Council member at-large Marc Elrich, Van Jones and Senator Ben Cardin.
“Ben Jealous in Annapolis!” Cardin announced to the crowd. “We can get this done. Look, it’s a Saturday afternoon and look how many people are here, and there’s a lot more outside that can’t get in here,” he said. “We have to turn that energy into votes and into success.”
Supporters cheered and applauded as different public figures gave their reasons why people should vote for Jealous.
“I am really excited about Ben Jealous and Dave Chappelle coming home in support of him,” said Salome Kapepula, a 25-year-old Maryland resident. “That shows that there’s a candidate that people can really relate to and for someone like Dave Chappelle to even come behind him, you know what I mean?”
Kapepula added, “And you can tell, that says a lot about Ben Jealous as a candidate, that he has that kind of support from people who know him for years and can tell you from experience that he is the real deal.”
As they waited for Jealous and Chappelle, people continued to show their excitement; many were seen wearing “Vote for Ben Jealous” T-shirts, stickers and signs, as chants of “Ben Jealous” traveled around the room.
“I’m here to support Ben Jealous; I’m not shy about it, I think he’s a good candidate,” said Elrich. “I’m not saying that Hogan’s a mean guy, but the fact is he’s got different political perspectives then most Democrats have, and I think having a Democrat who you can partner with is going to make a difference in the next century, I believe.
”The things I care about,” Elrich added, “are the things [Jealous] cares about – core democratic values, so I think if I support democratic values, I should be supportive of him.”
Although 15 minutes late, Jealous and Chappele arrived to thunderous applause as they hit the stage together.
“Look at this room,” Jealous said as the crowd cheered. “Just look to the left, to your right, Look at the beauty that is Maryland. Look at the beauty that is Silver Spring.”
“We can leap forward together if we come together,” Jealous told the crowd. “So, brothers and sisters, I’m here tonight to say that we are a month away from victory.”
“Yo, this is the deal,” said Chappelle to the crowd. “I am not a political person. I don’t want you guys to think I’m standing up here trying to tell anybody what to do.”
Chappelle then told the reason he is on the stage – because Ben Jealous is his “godbrother.” Chappelle has known him his whole life but they became very close when both were 17 years old and living in New York City. Jealous had been studying at Columbia University, while Chappelle tried to break into the New York comedy scene.
“I’m telling you this because from the moment I met him, I have personally witnessed that he has been very committed to making equity and life better for all Americans and African Americans, in particular,” Chappelle said.
As Chappelle continued to speak, two young boys holding Ben Jealous signs went on stage to hug the candidate. “He’s over here hugging babies,” said Chappelle, as the crowd began to laugh.
Chappelle then said that Silver Spring is his stomping ground, and he has no doubt that Jealous is the man for the job. “I’m not telling anybody what to do; I’m just pulling your coat to something that I’m sure will work.”