Gubernatorial Candidate Profiles
The Maryland gubernatorial race is in full swing. There’s only a little over a month left before the primary elections on June 24, and early voting starts on June 12. That means plenty of public appearances, debates and interviews, and The Towerlight is here to break down the candidates, from both the Republican and Democratic parties, so that come primary time, you, as voters, can be more informed.
Maryland has a closed primary system, so registered Democrats can only vote among the Democratic candidates, registered Republicans can only vote among the Republican candidates, and anyone registered as an independent or in a third party will not be able to vote in the primary election.
With Gov. Martin O’Malley leaving office, the race is wide open at this point, with a number of interesting candidates out there, including Maryland’s current Attorney General, the Lt. Governor, and a pro-marijuana legalization lesbian delegate– and that’s just the Democrats.
This is sure to be an interesting race, and we’re hoping to get the discussion started on Towson’s campus by previewing the candidates.
The current Lt. Governor of Maryland, Anthony Brown had the leg up on the rest of the candidates based on name recognition alone. Brown is running on a platform of bringing jobs back to Maryland, in addition to advancing opportunities for women, making college more affordable for students, reaching out to veterans (Brown is a veteran himself) and creating more housing for low-income families.
Brown’s running mate is Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.
“Over the past eight years, Martin O’Malley and I have expanded access to a quality college education, frozen tuition for four years — leading to the smallest tuition growth rate in the nation — and raised our minimum wage,” Brown said in an email. “A Brown-Ulman administration will build on that commitment to students by capping tuition cost increases at 3 percent over the next four years.”
Brown released a $112 million plan on Tuesday to grow Maryland’s economy if he is elected.
The five point plan would form a commission to make recommendations on how to reform state taxes by 2016, create a tax credit for growing companies looking to buy manufacturing equipment and would allocate $20 million for the tax credit. Brown would also create a center to help connect businesses with workers, which would cost $8.5 million over four years.
Brown received criticism for his poor handling of the Maryland Health Exchange website, and that criticism has been delivered harshly by Doug Gansler.
Heather Mizeur would be Maryland’s first female governor, and the nation’s first openly gay governor. She’s looking to legalize marijuana in Maryland and is running with Delman Coates, who has never held an elected office position.
Outside of marijuana legalization, Mizeur is also looking to cut taxes for the middle class, prevent the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and move toward using more alternative energy sources in Maryland. She is also the only candidate to openly oppose the Cove Point natural gas project.
Concerning the economy, Mizeur unveiled a 10-point plan for job and economic growth in November that includes an income tax cut for 99 percent of Maryland residents and an increase in minimum wage for non-tipped workers to $16.70 by the year 2022. Under this plan, non-tipped workers’ wages would also increase to be 70 percent of the non-tipped minimum wage.
“Voters want candidates who stay positive, and prioritize policy over platitudes. Heather is focused on the issues that matter to Maryland students and families: Closing our achievement gap, turning our minimum wage into a living wage, and making college more affordable. She will not settle for an economy that leaves Marylanders behind,” Steven Hershkowitz, Mizeur’s communication director said in an email.
For college students, Mizeur released a plan on Monday to help cut down on college costs, including increasing need-based financial aid by $27 million a year, and she is proposing the creation of a College Affordability for All Commission, which would explore more options for financial aid in the state.
“At a time when so much financial need goes unmet, it is important that limited resources for financial aid are targeted toward those who need it most,” Mizeur said in a press release outlining the plan.
Maryland’s Attorney General, Doug Gansler, is running with Delegate Jolene Ivey, a Towson alum. Gansler says that he’s been involved in politics since he was 13.
“I believe in public service,” Gansler said.
As Attorney General, Gansler says he’s won several victories for Maryland, including the largest victory in Maryland’s history against polluters. And Gansler was the first statewide elected official in Maryland to come out in support of marriage equality.
Gansler said that he understands the burden of student loans, and if elected, he would work to address what he sees as “the burden of our time.”
“We need to make college more affordable for everybody,” he said.
Gansler’s campaign also focuses largely on taking pride in Maryland, the state where he grew up.
“I think people are unfortunately cynical about our government, but I think there’s a lot of opportunity to help people – and look at something that’s not fair and fight relentlessly and fix it and get things done,” he said.
Gansler is a controversial figure in Maryland politics. In October of 2013, a photo was published of the Attorney General at a house party in Delaware where there was underage drinking.
Gansler responded to the photo by saying he was only there briefly to talk to his son, did not notice any underage drinking and did not have the “moral authority” to stop whatever may have been happening.
More recently, Gansler drew fire from a Maryland veterans group for comments he made implying that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is a veteran, had “never run anything.” Gansler later clarified that he meant that his comments specifically referenced Brown’s handling of Maryland’s healthcare exchange.
Delegate Ron George says he never expected that he’d be running for governor.
“It definitely wasn’t something I aspired to at all. I didn’t even aspire to run for delegate,” he said. George said that he was asked to run for delegate after being called in to testify several times on issues that related to small business.
George is running with Shelley Aloi, a former alderman from the City of Frederick.
Prior to taking public office, George was involved with a large amount of volunteer work, including work in New York City.
George says that he sees a disconnect between the government and the people. Because of his background and experience, George says that he would be able to repair that disconnect, and be “a governor for all.”
George has released a 10-point promise as a part of his platform for government. Included in that promise is promoting effective education. George said that a part of his plan also included helping college graduates, and promoting the purchase of Maryland-made goods and keeping citizens living in Maryland.
“I want to create more affordable ways for graduates to live here,” he said. “We want them to be able to have a job here, not just go to school here.”
Charles Lollar is one of the lesser-known Republican candidates for governor, but his campaign recently got a boost after winning a key straw poll.
In the straw poll taken on April 26 by the Republican party, Lollar received 68 of the delegates’ in the poll, ahead of Larry Hogan, David Craig and Ron George.
Lollar isn’t discussed as much as the other candidate, due to his campaign’s lackluster funding.
A traditional businessman, Lollar lost in an election against Steny Hoyer for a spot in Congress.
If elected, Lollar has said he wants to consider the possibility of eliminating income tax in Maryland after reviewing the economy in other states without the tax. He would eventually want to phase out the state income tax for individuals and businesses in five years.
Lollar’s website does not explicitly state any plans regarding higher education, but some of his top issues include defining marriage as being between a man and a woman and making sure marijuana is not legalized in the state.
“At a time when the Maryland economy is faltering, and our state government continues to harm Maryland first through wrong-headed tax and spend policies, the last thing we need is to embark on another potentially catastrophic social experiment that could do lasting damage to an entire generation of our young people,” his website reads.
Larry Hogan is looking to spend less money to solve Maryland’s problem, not more.
Hogan’s website emphasizes fiscal responsibility by the state government, and that is main plank in his platform.
“I was hearing people saying every day that they want to leave the state of Maryland, and people would say they love the state but they can’t afford to stay here,” Hogan said. “The first thing we have to do is get spending under control. We can’t continue to increase spending at the rate we’ve had. There’s where the primary focus needs to come, and then we can look at these tax increases.”
Hogan said he and his running mate, Secretary of General Services for Maryland Boyd Rutherford, are looking to cut back on spending, and then eventually to decrease the tax hikes the O’Malley administration has put in place. Currently, Maryland has a $421 million deficit after former Gov. Robert Ehrlich had gotten Maryland to a $1 billion surplus in 2005.
Previously, Hogan served as state cabinet secretary for Ehrlich from 2003 to 2007, and now runs the group Change Maryland.
Hogan has never held an elected position.
Hogan ran against Steny Hoyer for Congress in 2010 and lost, but Hogan said his experience outside of politics makes him a more qualified candidate, as well as the best candidate for college students.
“The most important thing is to be thinking about [in college is] finding a job. Young people…are coming out of college and can’t find a job in Maryland. Kids are graduating from college with good degrees but they’re living at home because they can’t find work, and I want to focus on bringing companies back to Maryland to create opportunities for young people,” Hogan said.
Editor’s Note: This is a continuation of our gubernatorial primary preview. We were scheduled to speak with Craig, but were not able to work out an official interview.
Coming off his second term as Harford County Executive, David Craig is looking to become the next governor of Maryland.
This is Craig’s 21st time running for office, previously serving as a state delegate, state senator and the mayor of Havre de Grace.
Craig’s main focus in his campaign is cutting down on taxes for the middle class. He plans to eliminate or reduce any taxes or fees that he sees as hurting job growth in the state, including the rain tax, business tax, income taxes, sales taxes and fuel taxes.
“In all, 40 additional tax, fee and toll increases enacted since 2007 now remove an additional $3.1 billion every year out of our pockets. If nothing is done, we will have paid nearly $20 billion by 2018 in new taxes, fees and tolls according to state government’s own financial projections. This is over and above the existing tax burden,” a statement on Craig’s website reads.
In order to scale back the deficit in the state, Craig, along with his running mate Jeannie Haddaway, wants to cut spending in the budget.
He also wants to fix issues with Maryland’s criminal justice system, punishing anyone who allows cell phones into a correctional facility and making sure that anyone who commits a crime with a gun faces federal court, so that the person is not eligible for parole.