In her bid to be Maryland’s next governor, Del. Heather Mizeur introduced her running mate, the Rev. Delman Coates — a Prince George’s County pastor and political newcomer — to supporters in Silver Spring on Wednesday.
From afar, it might seem like an unlikely pairing — a black Baptist minister and a white lesbian — but Mizeur said her and Coates’ progressive values and vision for Maryland align perfectly.
Coates, 40, brings charisma, passion and loyalty to the campaign, as well as a talent for community engagement, said Mizeur (D-Dist. 20) of Takoma Park, who also is 40.
A Mizeur-Coates ticket rounds out the Democratic field and shifts focus to Prince George’s County as a battleground in the June 2014 primary, as each Democratic ticket includes a candidate from that county.
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler’s running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Dist. 47), lives in Cheverly.
Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown is a Mitchellville resident. His lieutenant governor candidate is Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
As of October 2012, Prince George’s had 443,643 enrolled Democrats, the most of any jurisdiction in Maryland and about 22 percent of the state’s total. The next highest was Montgomery, with 345,449 Democrats.
Having never held or run for office, Coates is admittedly new to politics — but not new to public service, he said.
“There is a saying that we say in some faith circles. It says a shepherd ought to smell like sheep,” he said.
As a pastor, Coates said, he has devoted his ministry to serving people not moving in establishment circles.
“It’s that connection and contact with the people that qualifies me for this opportunity,” he said.
Among African-American clergy leaders, there is precendent of moving from pastoral service into political service, he said.
“Nothing says that you have to be an elected official for 10, 20, 30 years in order to qualify for elected office,” he said. “I have a discernible record of leadership.”
A local example of the dual role of pastor and legislator is C. Anthony Muse, a state senator from Prince George’s and bishop at Ark of Safety Christian Church in Upper Marlboro.
Voters might recognize Coates, a Fort Washington resident, from the 2012 campaign for same-sex marriage, when he appeared in ads supporting a ballot question to uphold the legislature’s newly passed law.
Nationally, Coates is known for his work on social justice and combating inequalities, according to Mizeur’s campaign.
Others might recognize him as the senior pastor at Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton.
Since 2004 he has led the church, growing its membership to 8,000. He said will continue to preach and lead the church it even while on the campaign trail.
Coates and his wife, Yolanda, have two sons, ages 10 and 7, and 4-year-old twin girls.