Road Map to Victory

March 10, 2015

Newly-elected Maryland Delegate Cory McCray will readily admit he wasn’t always a perfect voter. “I didn’t start voting until George W Bush was in office. If you looked me up in the VAN file, I’d be in trouble!” But as a small business owner in charge of several rental properties, the more his business grew, the more he began to see how politics was a part of everything.

When he saw a bill fail that would have increased the minimum wage, he started thinking about how these kinds of things matter. “You know,” he explained, “people do better when they have more money in their pocket. I started to realize that when people want to do good for others, but are coming up short, it’s usually because of lack of training, messaging, resources, and money.” From there, Cory decided politics was the best way to engage.

He certainly wasn’t born wanting to run for office but seeing a friend run for office and lose an election by a mere 43 votes motivated Cory. He saw her passion and knew she would have made a good representative. “That was my tipping point. I said we need a road map. We need a blue print. Who else could do it?” So Cory began working on that plan – he leveraged his background as a business owner to build relationships and raise money. And then he went out and talked to people. Lots of people. “It takes a lot of discipline to go out and knock doors for 300 days. In winter. In summer. In the rain…it takes a lot of strength, but if other people have the road map, if you get them in the game, they will use it.”

Cory’s road map went through a Camp Wellstone. He was just a few months in to what would become his 18 month campaign and the opportunity to attend our candidate and campaign worker training came up. “With every business you need a plan. Camp Wellstone helped me plan that road to victory. You helped me sharpen my stump speech and message – what was my contrast? How did I stand out from the other candidates? And people said I never got off message, and by the end of the campaign they could recite my stump speech!” In an 8-way race, Cory used his background – the only candidate with a family and the only blue collar worker – to stand out.

Cory also brought a few members of his campaign team to Camp Wellstone with him. “I’m an organizer, and have been to tons of trainings, but I wanted my team to see how serious this was,” Cory explained, “after being at the training they knew what was in store. It really helped.”

Cory has been a Delegate for only a handful of weeks, but already is making an impact. He likes to say that his constituents will always see a smile on his face because he knows he’s making a difference.

He’s already working on an apprenticeship bill that will fully fund tuition for apprentices on prevailing wage projects – It’s an issue that is close to Cory’s heart – he got his start as an electrician apprentice with The International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW) where he is still an organizer. The bill is currently in committee with hope it will pass in the General Assembly this year. And for Cory, as a freshman legislator, to have attracted attention and co-sponsorship from chairs and the majority leader is a big deal. “It’s just a great feeling, and I hope no one ever takes that away from me!” he said.

Outside the halls of the legislature, Cory has initiated monthly “Conversations with Cory”, in which he is setting up listening groups in locations around his district. Cory is going out into his community and having conversations, engaging, and asking for feedback. Not everyone can get to the Capitol or will track all 2,000 bills in the legislature, so he is having real conversations about the issues that impact people’s lives. He knows if people are engaged, they will continue to stay involved.

Running the Wellstone Way was just the start for Cory, now he’s governing the Wellstone Way. As he puts it, it’s about making every day count, and his constituents in Baltimore certainly will benefit from his people-centered approach to governing.