Maryland race for gov­er­nor tight­ens Ho­gan gain­ing mo­men­tum as doubts over Brown linger

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

The race for gov­er­nor in deep­blue Maryland is much closer than ex­pected, with an­a­lysts say­ing Demo­crat An­thony Brown is vul­ner­a­ble be­cause he tip­toed around the big is­sues and failed to make an ar­gu­ment for his elec­tion other than he’s next in line.

Mr. Brown, the two-term lieu­tenant gov­er­nor, leads in polls but not by the dou­ble-digit spread he should en­joy in a state where regis­tered Democrats out­num­ber Repub­li­cans 2-to-1. His op­po­nent, Repub­li­can busi­ness­man Larry Ho­gan, is sud­denly show­ing mo­men­tum as vot­ers give him a sec­ond look less than four weeks be­fore the elec­tion.

“If An­thony Brown loses this elec­tion, he’s go­ing to lose it be­cause he didn’t give his fol­low­ers any rea­son to be­lieve he is any­thing but a nice guy who re­ally wasn’t up to the job,” said Tow­son Univer­sity pro­fes­sor Richard E. Vatz, who an­a­lyzes po­lit­i­cal rhetoric and Maryland po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns.

The per­ceived lack of en­thu­si­asm for Mr. Brown has prompted com­par­i­son to for­mer Lt. Gov. Kath­leen Kennedy Townsend’s failed run for gov­er­nor in 2002. Her poor cam­paign­ing was blamed in part for Robert L. Ehrlich’s suc­cess in be­com­ing the state’s first Repub­li­can gov­er­nor since Spiro T. Agnew left of­fice in 1969.

Mr. Vatz faulted the Brown cam­paign for avoid­ing the ma­jor is­sues in the state, in­clud­ing un­pop­u­lar tax in­creases, stymied eco­nomic growth, high un­em­ploy­ment and the botched roll­out of the state’s health care in­surance ex­change that the lieu­tenant gov­er­nor was re­spon­si­ble for over­see­ing.

In­stead, the Brown cam­paign has aired a se­ries of TV ads that ac­cuse Mr. Ho­gan of be­ing an­ti­woman and want­ing to put as­sault ri­fles in the hands of crim­i­nals.

“Brown’s support is low-in­ten­sity and un­sta­ble,” said Mr. Vatz. “He brings up mi­nus­cule is­sues and false is­sues and makes at­tacks on Ho­gan that are un­true. … That makes peo­ple who are slightly lean­ing Demo­cratic want to con­sider say­ing, ‘You know, we’re not do­ing so well. Why not take a chance on the man who is the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee?’”

Mr. Brown has of­fered few pro­pos­als that dif­fer­en­ti­ate him­self from the poli­cies of his men­tor, Gov. Martin O’Mal­ley. Mr. Brown’s plat­form in­cludes univer­sal prekinder­garten and a task force to per­form a com­pre­hen­sive ef­fi­ciency re­view of state gov­ern­ment spend­ing.

A Wash­ing­ton Post poll last week showed Mr. Brown with a 9-point lead over Mr. Ho­gan, 47 per­cent to 38 per­cent.

Another poll last week, by Gonzales Re­search & Mar­ket­ing Strate­gies Inc., showed the race closer, with Mr. Brown lead­ing Mr. Ho­gan 47 per­cent to 43 per­cent.

Mr. Brown’s sup­port­ers cast doubt on the Gonzales poll be­cause it was com­mis­sioned by Maryland, My Maryland PAC, an out­side group that sup­ports Mr. Ho­gan.

If elected, Mr. Brown will be the state’s first black gov­er­nor. Ev­ery poll shows that he con­tin­ues to gar­ner en­thu­si­as­tic support from black vot­ers, who make up about 28 per­cent of the elec­torate in Maryland.

The Brown cam­paign re­fused to an­swer ques­tions about the nar­row­ing race.

His sup­port­ers in­sist that there is no lack of en­thu­si­asm for their can­di­date.

“They are ex­cited about Brown and con­cerned about Ho­gan,” said Sue Esty, leg­isla­tive and po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor for the state coun­cil of Amer­i­can Fed­er­a­tion of State, County and Mu­nic­i­pal Em­ploy­ees.

Ms. Esty said the union was or­ga­niz­ing a ro­bust cam­paign to pro­mote Mr. Brown and mo­bi­lize vot­ers on Elec­tion Day, much the same way it worked to twice elect Mr. O’Mal­ley.

“We’re tak­ing the race very se­ri­ously and get­ting very ac­tive in it,” she said. “We are con­cerned be­fore ev­ery elec­tion. We can’t af­ford to rest be­cause … the per­son who gets elected gov­er­nor has a huge im­pact on the daily work lives of thou­sands of state em­ploy­ees.”

Brown

Ho­gan

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