By Pat Warren

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It may be a year away but the race to be the Democrat Party nominee for governor picks up speed, with a major endorsement for one of the first declared candidates.

Bernie Sanders came to Maryland to throw his support behind former NAACP president Ben Jealous.

“I am proud and delighted to be here with all of you,” Sanders said. “To introduce to you the next governor of the great state of Maryland, Ben Jealous!”

Jealous is one of the first Democrats to announce a run for governor in 2018, the first to win a major endorsement, and one of the few in the field running his first race.

Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker is a two-term county executive and former state delegate who also threw his hat in the ring.

Montgomery County state Senator Richard Madaleno, also in the race, is a leading liberal critic of Governor Larry Hogan.

Baltimore tech entrepreneur Alec Ross announced early and is posting his issues on YouTube.

“I believe the true measure of a government is how it treats the downtrodden,” Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said Wednesday.

Kamenetz, who is term limited, said he’ll decide after Labor Day.

Congressman John Delaney is expected to decide later this month.

Former Attorney General Doug Gansler is considering what would be his second primary run for governor.

And Baltimore attorney James Shea, is the latest to announce he’s in the race.

It may be early but it’s going to be a tough race and no time to waste.

Hogan is expected to run for re-election.

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