Candidates are working hard making their final appeal to voters prior to the rapidly approaching June 24 primary election in Maryland. At the same time, some voters are weighing in at early voting polling locations across the state where they can cast their ballots through Thursday June 19.
When the votes are counted, in what is expected to be a low turnout, look to see Lt. Governor Anthony Brown prevail over Attorney General Doug Gansler and delegate Heather Mizeur in the Democratic primary election for Governor.
It is also likely Brown, will win with a plurality of the vote and not a majority. In a recent Baltimore Sun survey, Brown had a commanding lead over his competitors, but received only 41%. Maryland is not a state that requires a majority vote, so there will be no runoff election.
Mizeur surprised many by running arguably the best campaign among the three front running Democratic candidates for governor. She was consistent in all of the forums and stayed out of the bickering that was taking place between Gansler and Brown.
Knowing there was ground to be made up, Gansler’s campaign decided early to go after Brown, criticizing him for the botched launch of the state exchange for the Affordable Care Act and for implementing 40 tax hikes during the Governor Martin O’Malley/Brown administration.
Brown, with the backing of O’Malley and the state Democratic establishment, played it cautious throughout the primary. Knowing he had a sizable lead, the Brown campaign decided to play it safe, without proposing any bold or new ideas. Instead, they were comfortable running on the record of the past 8 years under the O’Malley/Brown administration.
A legacy many Democrats are proud of. Passage of The Dream Act, repeal of the death penalty, increasing the minimum wage, gay marriage, and medical marijuana are a few of the landmark bills that were passed under the O’Malley/Brown administration.
Unfortunately for Gansler, his attacks on the health care roll out and tax hikes sounded like remarks coming from Republicans and not a fellow Democrat. Sure enough, the campaign for Larry Hogan who is the likely winner in the Republican primary for governor just began running television ads mirroring what Gansler has been saying.
Lost during the campaign attacks was the support Gansler gave to Barrack Obama when he was running for president and The Affordable Care Act and his belief that everyone deserves health care. The strong supportive positions Gansler has taken over the years on many issues dear to Democrats and the battles he undertook on their behalf seemed to get fogged over in the campaign haze.
The new and fresh voice of Heather Mizeur, along with her never ending energy propelling her campaigning statewide has captured the support of many progressive Maryland Democrats.
Never expected to serious compete, the first openly gay candidate for Governor in Maryland has surprised many and will end up battling Gansler for second place.
Mizeur’s call for the legalization and regulation of marijuana is actually based on very sound reasoning. With only two states, Colorado and Washington having passed similar laws, perhaps her call is premature.
On the other hand, legalization would not only save money on enforcement and incarceration, it would create a revenue stream for state coffers. Her call to bring back the millionaire tax, speed up the increase of the minimum wage and address income inequality should be acted on.
Gansler’s concern that a recent Gallup poll showed 47% of Marylanders say they want to leave the state is a valid concern and one that needs to be addressed immediately. As is his call to address the achievement gap between white and minority students in the state.
Economic and community development, job creation and addressing income inequality should be a major emphasis for the next governor of Maryland. A strong, effective public education system and affordable housing for all also deserve attention from the next Governor of Maryland. Continued focus on the environment and protection of the Chesapeake Bay is paramount.
The challenges are big for the next governor of Maryland. The Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman team has the experience and skills to meet these challenges. Winning with a plurality vote, it would be sensible to include in a major role, both Attorney General Doug Gansler and delegate Heather Mizeur in the general election campaign.
Furthermore, should Brown prevail in November to become Governor, it would be wise for him and a benefit for Maryland if he found a productive role for each to play in his administration.