Monday, August 25, 2014

Race of the Day- Maryland Governor

71 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Open
2012 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Likely Democrat

With two term Maryland Governor and possible Democrat Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley ineligible to serve another term, several Democrats and Republicans stepped forward to try to succeed him. Since the state is so favorable to Democrats, those that ran in that party clearly felt that the nomination would be quite lucrative, but Republicans certainly decided to take their chances as well for this open seat race.

The winner of the June primary for the Democrats was the front-runner throughout their campaign. Anthony Brown was chosen by O'Malley eight years ago and has served as his Lt. Governor. He had the support of his boss and of many in the Maryland Democrat establishment. He stands to become the first African-American Governor of the state if elected. While he was able to win just over a majority of the vote, he had to defeat two major opponents. One was State Delegate Heather Mizeur, who is the first high profile openly gay woman to ever be a major candidate for Governor in any state. She finished in third place, not too far behind state Attorney General Doug Gansler, who clearly thought he was the most qualified to be Governor and that it was his turn to be nominated. While he harshly went after many aspects of the O'Malley-Brown Administration, Gansler also took the step of saying that Brown's military service in Iraq, was not a "real job" nor an example of leadership experience. That line probably did Gansler no favors and helped Brown win the nomination by a solid margin.

In Maryland, candidates pick their running-mates before the primary and that led to additional politicians on the campaign trail trying to get nominated as a team. The candidate running with Brown is Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. As a white man, he brings racial balance to the ticket. Including Brown, the last two Lt. Governors of Maryland have been African-American, and both of the major white Democrats who ran for Governor picked black running-mates as did the eventual GOP nominee.

The Republican primary featured four major candidates and while the result was a bit closer, it was still a double digit win for businessman Larry Hogan. The son of a Congressman, Hogan had run a couple of times unsuccessfully for Congress when he was still quite young and was planning to run for Governor in 2010 before former GOP Governor Bob Ehrlich attempted a comeback. Supported this year by Ehrlich, Hogan, a former State Cabinet Secretary, was leading a group called "Change Maryland." Harford County Executive David Craig finished in second place. I do not believe there were much in the way of major policy differences between the Republican candidates, but that Hogan was considered the one with the most reasonable possibility of victory. Hogan's running-mate is Boyd Rutherford, a former State General Services Secretary and assistant Agriculture Secretary in the federal government.

It could be that Maryland is ready for a change after eight years of a Democrat Administration, but the state is just so tough for Republicans that Brown has a built in edge to be elected in November. Some polls after the primary showed him leading Hogan by double digits, but in the past couple of days, the GOP candidate released an internal poll showing him only trailing Brown 45-42.

Republicans will be hopeful that they can use fatigue of high taxes against Brown and Democrats in the state and will look back fondly on the time when Ehrlich was able to end a long Democrat reign in Annapolis by winning a 2002 upset. The Republican would go on to be a fairly popular Governor but would lose in a strong Democrat year regardless, largely because that party almost always wins statewide races in Maryland.

Time will tell whether or not Hogan is really in this race. A non-campaign commissioned poll that would show a close race would certainly make things interesting here. For now though, my sense is that Brown has to be considered a solid, if not totally safe, favorite in a state where his party holds the cards.

Hogan campaign link:

Gubernatorial races predicted thus far: 7 D (1 Safe, 1 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup) , 9 R (2 Safe, 2 Likely, 5 Leans)
Overall totals predicted thus far: 14 D, 16 R


At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Conservative Democrat said...

I see Brown winning by double digits: 56%-41%.


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