The Chatter

​Bernie Sanders Rallies Baltimore Voters

Vermont Senator draws big crowd to "political revolution" at Royal Farms Arena.

By Ron Cassie | April 23, 2016, 4:55 pm

The Chatter

​Bernie Sanders Rallies Baltimore Voters

Vermont Senator draws big crowd to "political revolution" at Royal Farms Arena.

By Ron Cassie | April 23, 2016, 4:55 pm

The weather forecast Saturday pushed Bernie Sanders’ planned rally at Druid Hill Park to the Royal Farms Arena, but the light rain did not dampen the enthusiasm of the Democratic presidential candidate’s supporters.

A diverse crowd estimated at 6,000 turned out to hear and cheer Sanders’ message of campaign finance reform and political revolution—at one point interrupting him with the chant, “Bernie Sanders has our back, we don’t need a super PAC.”

The Vermont senator continually railed against accepting the status quo in his hour-long address. Specifically, Sanders called attention to the poverty rates in Baltimore, where the overwhelming majority of public school children qualify for free or reduced lunches, describing conditions in many of the city’s struggling neighborhoods as unacceptable “in the richest country in the history of the world.”

He noted that life expectancy, infant mortality rates, and the health and economic outlooks for teenagers in some of Baltimore’s struggling neighborhoods rank among the worst in the world. He also called for a “Medicare for all” universal health system, an increase in social security benefits for seniors—“the people who built this country and raised us”—and free public college and university tuition.

Sanders said he would pay for an increase in social security benefits by lifting the current ceiling on the social security income tax, which is currently limited to annual income below $118,500, and public college education with a tax on Wall Street speculation.

Sanders was introduced by Baltimore activist Kwame Rose, who garnered national attention last April after confronting Fox News commentator Geraldo Rivera during protests following the death of Freddie Gray; as well as Baltimore native Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP; actors Kendrick Sampson and Danny Glover; and state delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez.

“I’m in a race against a man who is spending more money than anyone ever has for a seat in Congress,” Gutierrez said afterward, referring to David Trone and her campaign to replace Rep. Chris Van Hollen in Montgomery County. “Bernie Sanders is right about getting money out of politics.”


Maryland’s Tuesday primary coincides with primaries in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Along with those states, it could prove to be the death knell of Sanders’ bid to catch Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton if he does not perform well.

Clinton’s rally in South Baltimore two weeks ago drew about 1,000 supporters, but the former secretary of state has earned the endorsement of Maryland’s elected officials, including Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, and Rep. Elijah Cummings. She has also led Sanders by a significant margin in state polling throughout the election season.

Other than drawing differences with Sanders on their gun control records, Clinton spent most of her speech in Baltimore going after Republican presidential primary leaders Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, both of whom she characterized as promoting discrimination and bigotry

In his speech, however, Sanders focused on making distinctions between his positions and record, and Clinton’s positions and record on issues that included fracking, which he wants to ban; a national $15 minimum wage, which he supports; trade agreements, which he has opposed; and breaking up the big banks, such as Goldman Sachs, which he says continues to hold too much economic and political power. As he has done previously, Sanders also contrasted his vote against the war in Iraq and Clinton’s support for the war in 2002. He promised to spend money rebuilding American cities and not on “perpetual” war in the Middle East.

Sanders also told the crowd that people who tell them that the U.S. is poor are “lying” and that for the past 35-40 years “the wealth has been going to the top 1 percent.”

“We are going to have an economy that works for all,” Sanders said.

His supporters stressed the Sanders’ early civil rights activism as a college student and long advocacy since on behalf of women’s rights, LGBT rights, workers’ rights and environmental causes, such as climate change.

“Who else [but Bernie Sanders] would be shackling themselves to the leg of a black woman fighting for equality 50 years ago,” Rose asked the crowd during his introduction, referencing footage of a young Sanders during a Chicago segregation protest. “Who else would be touring the neighborhood of Freddie Gray?” continued Rose, referencing Sanders’ December visit to Sandtown and West Baltimore and meeting with local black pastors.

Maryland's primary is April 26, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Early voting ended Thursday.

Meet The Author

Ron Cassie is a senior editor for Baltimore, where he covers the environment, education, medicine, politics, and city life.

You May Also Like

The Chatter

What Did Baltimore Google in 2019?

Here are the topics and trends that got Charm City talking this year.

The Chatter

Options Remain for Adnan Syed's Legal Team Following Supreme Court Denial

The nation’s highest court announced Monday that it will not hear the case.

The Chatter

Pete Buttigieg Touts Criminal Justice Reform In Baltimore Visit

The presidential candidate first visit to Baltimore was for private donor fundraising event.

The Chatter

Jewish Community Leaders Respond to Jersey City Shooting

Councilman Izzy Patoka leads charge to increase security at kosher markets following the attack.


A Man for All Seasons

Babe Ruth, the once “hopeless incorrigible” kid from Baltimore, made baseball, and America, bigger and better.

Science & Technology

No Small Deaths

Frances Glessner Lee's famous dioramas teach detectives how to evaluate crime scenes.

Connect With Us

Most Read

Maryland Native Maggie Rogers Receives First Grammy Nomination: The singer-songwriter was nominated for “Best New Artist” alongside big-name acts.

Gervonta Davis Wins Another World Title Belt, Eyes ‘Big Year’ Ahead: West Baltimore’s own was bruised, but not beaten in longest fight of his pro career.

Will Judge Make an Example Out of Catherine Pugh?: With the former mayor’s sentencing scheduled for February, both sides get to work on their case.

What to Know About the Maryland Cycling Classic Coming September 2020: For starters, Baltimore's pro cycling event will be more than 100 miles long.

Maryland Politicians React to Trump Impeachment: Local leaders reflect and look ahead at Senate trial.