Push and push­back in Md. cam­paign

Ho­gan, Jeal­ous spar over vi­sions for the state and in­ci­dent be­tween staffers

The Washington Post - - METRO - BY RACHEL CHASON

Mary­land Gov. Larry Ho­gan (R) and Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial nom­i­nee Ben Jeal­ous met Fri­day for the sec­ond time ever, and things did not go smoothly.

The can­di­dates of­fered pointed cri­tiques in their re­spec­tive speeches dur­ing a Mary­land Mu­nic­i­pal League lun­cheon, and their cam­paigns sparred over an in­ci­dent in which a Jeal­ous body­guard pushed a Ho­gan staffer away from Jeal­ous.

Jeal­ous’s cam­paign de­scribed the in­ci­dent as mi­nor and “fake news” and ac­cused Ho­gan of try­ing to “dis­tract from any real is­sues.”

But Ho­gan cam­paign spokesman Doug Mayer, who wit­nessed the in­ci­dent, said the staffer was “slammed” into a con­crete pil­lar out­side the Westin An­napo­lis, where the lun­cheon was held.

The staffer’s job is to video­tape Jeal­ous dur­ing his cam­paign ap­pear­ances. His footage, which was pro­vided by the Ho­gan cam­paign, re­flects his cam­era be­ing jos­tled as he is heard say­ing, “Get your hands off me.”

In a sep­a­rate video taken by jour­nal­ist Wil­liam Ford, which cap­tured the end of the in­ci­dent, the Jeal­ous guard can be seen grab­bing the Ho­gan staffer by the arm, ap­par­ently to re­strain him from get­ting closer to Jeal­ous, who was greet­ing of­fi­cials as he en­tered the ho­tel. The Ho­gan cam­paign de­manded an apol­ogy.

“The fact that the Ho­gan cam­paign is­sued a press re­lease be­fore alert­ing author­i­ties tells you even they don’t ac­tu­ally believe this was an as­sault,” Jeal­ous ad­viser Kevin Har­ris said. “The Ho­gan cam­paign should apol­o­gize for again wast­ing ev­ery­one’s time with ut­ter fool­ish­ness.”

Jabs from both sides have grown in­creas­ingly pointed in the fi­nal weeks of the race.

Jeal­ous, who trailed Ho­gan by 20 points in a re­cent Washington Post-Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land poll, ac­cused Ho­gan this week of “bul­ly­ing” him with the re­lease of a cam­paign video that mocks him for sev­eral ver­bal gaffes, which he said are due to his stut­ter.

In his speech Fri­day, Jeal­ous crit­i­cized Ho­gan as a “gov­er­nor who does not have a plan,” say­ing the Repub­li­can lacks con­crete pro­pos­als to fully fund pub­lic schools, stop ris­ing health care pre­mi­ums or im­prove job growth.

Jeal­ous, whose plat­form in­cludes a sin­gle-payer health care sys­tem, debt-free col­lege and re­duc­ing the prison pop­u­la­tion, ac­cused the gov­er­nor of tak­ing credit for ac­tions pushed by Mary­land’s Demo­cratic-con­trolled Gen­eral As­sem­bly.

Ho­gan coun­tered that he has made a “great deal of progress” in his first term — tout­ing his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bi­par­ti­san­ship and the “his­toric in­vest­ments in trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture.”

He ap­peared to re­buke Jeal­ous, with­out nam­ing him, and to paint him­self as the only non-ex­treme choice vot­ers will have in Novem­ber.

“I warned against wedge pol­i­tics and petty rhetoric used to belit­tle our ad­ver­saries,” Ho­gan said, re­call­ing his re­marks when he took of­fice four years ago. “I said to those who would take us to the ex­tremes of ei­ther party, let me re­mind you that Mary­land has al­ways been a state of mid­dle tem­per­a­ment.”

Ho­gan said most Mary­lan­ders are happy with the di­rec­tion in which the state is headed, which was not true when he and Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford ran for of­fice in 2014. He said he and Ruther­ford have done “ex­actly what we said we were go­ing to do” dur­ing their un­der­dog cam­paign, in­clud­ing work­ing across the aisle to con­trol spend­ing, bring new busi­nesses to Mary­land and stop tax in­creases.

Dur­ing a brief news con­fer­ence ahead of the fo­rum, Jeal­ous dis­missed the re­cent polls, not­ing that sur­veys also failed to pre­dict his vic­tory in the June Demo­cratic pri­mary.

“Polls don’t vote,” chanted a group of ed­u­ca­tors who trav­eled to the event with Jeal­ous on a yel­low school bus.

Jeal­ous ref­er­enced Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who en­dorsed him this month, sev­eral times, us­ing his motto when he de­clared that Mary­land can once again be a “yes we can” state. The Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, who has bris­tled at crit­i­cism that his lib­eral poli­cies are so­cial­ist, said that Obama, too, had to deal with peo­ple who tried to la­bel him a so­cial­ist. He com­pared him­self to bil­lion­aire en­trepreneurs War­ren Buf­fett and Jef­frey P. Be­zos (the Ama­zon.com founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive owns The Washington Post) say­ing that he, too, wants to “lever­age our buy­ing power to get a bet­ter deal” when it comes to mod­ern­iz­ing school in­fra­struc­ture.

Jeal­ous told re­porters that he wished Ho­gan had agreed to more than one tele­vised de­bate, which was held in Septem­ber af­ter a seven-week stand­off be­tween the cam­paigns. The de­bate it­self was a feisty back-and-forth on whether Mary­land needs a new di­rec­tion.

Ho­gan had of­fered to at­tend two tele­vised de­bates, while Jeal­ous sought to have five. In the end, only one was sched­uled.

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