Cennamology Chief Editor
Tonight is the final of three Democratic primary debates for governor. Doug Gansler, Anthony Brown, and Heather Mizeur duke it out one last time.
The first question is about electability, which may seem unusual but never take anything for granted. Gansler won this question hands down by bringing up Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the Democratic nominee in the 2002 election where Republican Bob Ehrlich was able to win. Townsend was the only time a lieutenant governor has been nominated for governor of Maryland and she handed the governor's mansion to the Republicans for the first time since Spiro Agnew was governor. He is not-so-subtly warning that the same may happen again if Brown is the nominee. Gansler also wins this question with a jab that he has held elected office in Maryland before either of his opponents ever lived here.
Second question is about minimum wage. All three candidates supported the recent minimum wage raise to $10.10, with Mizeur saying that the raise should be phased in more quickly than three years. I'll give this question to Mizeur by default as her answer is actually different from the other two.
As Brown is answering, I am remembering an article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek about a year and a half to two years ago that said "if any state is ready [for Obamacare], it's Maryland." I remember that article was accompanied by a full-page photo of Lt. Gov. Brown. Maryland was supposed to be the leader, instead we ended up being the laughingstock.
A few questions later is about the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland's natural treasure. Brown and Mizeur talk about how important it is to protect the bay, and Gansler discusses what he has done about it. Mizeur takes this opportunity to bring up the great work she has done to keep fracking out of Maryland, and says "it's chilling that pregnant women are told not to swim in the Bay out of fear of what the pollution will do to their child." On this question, Gansler is doing what he does best - promote his record, therefore he wins the question.
For the next question, Mizeur takes a shot at the O'Malley-Brown administration, something she has not really done in the previous two debates. I like the more aggressive side of her, as I feel she has held back too much in the first two debates thinking that Brown and Gansler would attack each other for her. Her attack on the administration was purging a pre-K waiting list (I'll need to watch it again as I did not catch exactly what she said as I was writing). Gansler mentions the fact that Maryland has the second largest racial achievement gap in the U.S., something only he has talked about this campaign. Brown lies about Gansler's record (big surprise), saying that Gansler said that universal pre-K should not be expanded. Yeah, sorry Anthony, Doug never said that.
The candidates are then asked what their priorities would be for their first 100 days in office. On jobs, Brown makes the claim that Maryland has actually done better than Virginia when it comes to job creation, citing April's jobs report where Maryland created 9,300 jobs and Virginia lost 200. Gansler responds by saying that Virginia has budget surpluses every year, while Maryland has budget deficits every year. Gansler wins this duel by stating what I know is true from phone banking voters - that he has not met a single Marylander who does not think that Maryland taxes are too high.
Mizeur then talks about her priority to legalize and correctly regulate marijuana, citing the millions of dollars of revenue that it would bring as well as the decrease in crime rates that legalization of marijuana brings. Mizeur surprisingly, but very admirably, says that she would get rid of gerrymandering in Maryland, which will anger some of the state establishment. Her plan is to eliminate partisan redistricting and instead give the responsibility to a non-partisan commission. I have to give this question to Heather, because she is the only candidate who is willing to state the obvious about our marijuana laws. My only problem with Doug is his skepticism of marijuana legalization, and Brown does not support legalization either.
After the debate, my mind boggles as to how Brown is still considered the front-runner, as Gansler and Mizeur are the ones that shined in this debate. They clobbered Brown in this debate, not unlike the first two (the second of which Brown was too scared to even show up). In his closing statement, Brown mentions that he has the best running mate in Ken Ulman, which is true to the point where many have said that the Brown-Ulman ticket would be stronger with Ulman at the top.
If you missed the debate, it will be available for streaming on the WBAL website in a few days. The primary election is June 24th.