In January, I published a piece in which I explored the likely Democratic field in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial contest. As I saw it at the time: “There are likely to be four big names (and what a rarity that is — four credible candidates) seeking the Democratic nomination, Attorney General Doug Gansler, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Comptroller Peter Franchot and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman.”
In that review I concluded that Brown, and not Gansler, would probably be the favorite in a four-person race.
Though many observers of state politics argue Gansler is the clear front-runner, I would suggest that conclusion is anything but certain. If the 2014 primary were like a typical Democratic primary in recent years, with only two credible candidates, then certainly Gansler would be the favorite. But in a three-man race his odds drop considerably, and in a four-man race a clear new favored candidate emerges from the pack: Brown. In a multi-candidate race featuring Brown, the closest competitor will be the candidate who can appeal to rural Marylanders in Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland. That candidate is not (at least not yet) Doug Gansler.
Franchot has positioned himself as the candidate of fiscal constraint and is clearly attempting to create a relationship with parts of Maryland long overlooked by Democrats and Democratic candidates. If Franchot can become the candidate of “the rest of Maryland” while dividing the Interstate 95 corridor vote, he may emerge atop the pack.
Nine months since I made that assessments, I believe that it still holds. I argued at the time that Brown’s greatest threat was likely to be O’Malley fatigue. Given the disaster that was the 2012 legislative session followed by the two special sessions that yielded O’Malley-advocated tax increases on ordinary Marylanders but substantial tax cuts for millionaire casino operators, I think the O’Malley fatigue problem will weigh heavily on Brown.
Franchot has been a consistent and forceful voice of opposition to the tax hikes and to the expansion of casino gambling. He has been especially vocal in his anger over the role of money in the casino issue during the special session. His demands for disclosure of gambling-related donations received by members of the General Assembly and his recent push for real-time disclosure of contributions were all welcome calls for reform that I believe resonate well with the public.
[Continue reading Todd Eberly’s post at The FreeStater Blog.]
Todd Eberly blogs at The FreeStaterBlog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.