Gansler Has Best Debate as Brown Stumbles and Mizeur Stays on Message

George Wenschhof

In the last televised debate (watch video below) among the front running Democratic candidates for Governor of Maryland, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown did not have a good night, once again battling a hoarse voice and awkwardly exchanging barbs with Attorney General Doug Gansler.

Mizeur stayed on her populist message, consistently calling for a living wage and saying income inequality is one of the most pressing issues today.  Mizeur also pointed out she was the only candidate accepting public campaign financing.

Gansler saved his best performance for the last televised debate, looking relaxed and comfortable delivering his platform. In his closing remarks he spoke of how he would stand up to the special interests and lobbyists, using a story about a young boy Jazz, saying he would do it for him.

While Lt. Governor Brown would often say he had a 3 or 5 point plan for this issue or that issue, he lost connection by not saying specifically this is what he was going to do.  When asked directly by Maryland Public Television moderator Jeff Salkin, about his role in the failed rollout of the health care exchange, Brown had some answer about not serving on the committee that actually had the responsibility for the rollout.

Meanwhile, Gansler was quick to criticize the closed door manner in which the first provider and then the replacement provider was chosen to implement the Connecticut model.  At the same time, Gansler was able to connect his support for President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, an area he had been weak in previously by saying health care was a right.

All of the candidates stressed the need to create jobs with Gansler pointing to the recent Gallup poll showing 47% of Marylanders want to leave the state.  Gansler used the poll results to reinforce his criticism of the 40 tax increases imposed during the Governor Martin O’Malley/Lt. Governor Brown administration. Gansler agreeed with Mizeur on the need to close corporate tax loopholes and continued his call for a reduction in the corporate tax rate.  Gansler also used for the first time a populist line where he said “it was time to change the culture of Annapolis”.

Mizeur called for the reinstatement of the millionaire tax and managed to slip in her call for a nonpartisan commission to handle redistricting to get away from the crazy gerrymandering taking place today.

All the candidates agreed on the need to protect the Chesapeake Bay with Mizeur being the most succinct on how she would do so.  She stated the need to rebuild the oyster population and protect more bayside land.  Mizeur also said it was time to get serious in regard to chicken farms that are responsible for 20% of the pollution in the Bay and agricultural pollution and runoff.

Mizeur also took this opportunity to point out she opposed the Cove Point liquefaction gas expansion and that she has been a long term advocate against the use of “fracking” to extract natural gas in the state.

All were for universal pre-k with Gansler quick to point out the funding that was supposed to come from legalized gambling, had been taken out.

There are just three weeks left to the June 24 primary election and the last agreed upon debate among these candidates will a radio debate on Thursday from 8:00 – 9:30 AM ET on Larry Young’s WOLB AM radio show.

There have been no recent polls released with previous polls prior to the debates showing Brown leading, Gansler second and Mizeur a distant third.  However, the polls also indicated 40% of Democratic voters were undecided.

Lt. Governor Brown has not helped his standing with his debate performances to date. Delegate Heather Mizeur has been the most consistent and has mostly stayed above the bickering between Gansler and Brown.  Gansler had his best performance last night.

Stay tuned.

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