By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Former NAACP president Benjamin Jealous has announced he is running for governor of Maryland.

Jealous announced his candidacy at Baltimore Blossoms, a flower store opened by his cousin Rachelle after the unrest in Baltimore following the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

The 44-year-old Pasadena resident started his 2018 campaign rolling with criticism for the way Governor Larry Hogan has been leading the state, and he is wasting no time in making his intentions known.

“I am running to be the next governor of the great state of Maryland,” Jealous said.

And he’s already running an ad on YouTube, creating a movement as well as a campaign.

“Let’s build a movement. What this campaign is about is whether we’re willing to dream again,” it says in the ad.

Jealous, who campaigned for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary, is attacking the Trump administration and Republican Governor Hogan by association

“Our governor has collaborated with these extremists both through his misguided actions and also through his oh so cowardly silence,” Jealous said.

Jealous, who was president of the Baltimore-based NAACP from 2008 to 2013, acknowledges he has to take on Democrats with a lot more political experience.

“Oh look, I come into this as the underdog. I come into this as the guy who doesn’t have a job in politics right now, and I come into this as somebody who knows how to organize and pull folks together to win. We are up to the challenge, we are ready for the fight, and we will win,” Jealous said.

The Democratic primary is June 26 next year.

One other Democrat, Baltimore entrepreneur Alec Ross, has also declared his candidacy.

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