After bitter Md. primary, Gansler says he supports Brown as nominee for governor

Days after Maryland’s bitter Democratic primary ended, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said Friday that he has no hesitation about supporting Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, his former rival and now the party’s nominee for governor. Gansler said the two plan to meet soon to discuss how he can provide that support.

“The Democratic primary voters spoke,” Gansler said. “They assessed it and decided they wanted him to be the flag-bearer for the party in the general election. And I respect that decision.”

Gansler said his commitment to the Maryland Democratic Party is greater than the rivalry between him and Brown, whose leadership skills he disparaged during the primary, at one point calling him “an emperor with no clothes.”

“I’m a Democrat,” Gansler said. “I’ve been a Democrat since I was a little boy. I’ll be a Democrat until I die.”

Brown will face Republican Larry Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman, in November’s general election.

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Gansler’s support “means a lot to me,” Brown said Friday, adding that he looks forward to working with him.

Brown has spent the past few days praising his former rivals, Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery). At a “kiss and make up” party Thursday evening in Rockville, hosted by the Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County, Brown said that Mizeur “galvanized a true progressive movement” and praised Gansler’s leadership on the environment and same-sex marriage. Gansler said he skipped the event because of a family obligation.

“The Democratic Party is stronger because of Doug Gansler and Heather Mizeur,” Brown said in statement issued after the event. “And I am committed to uniting with them.”

At a Republican “unity rally” Thursday in Severna Park, Hogan picked up the backing of the three rivals he defeated in the GOP primary this week: Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Del. Ronald A. George (Anne Arundel) and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar.

Hogan, who was a Cabinet secretary when Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) was governor, praised each of his former rivals. Hogan won the primary with 43 percent of the vote, followed by Craig with 29.1 percent, Lollar at 15.5 percent and George with 12.4 percent.

Don Murphy, a former delegate from Baltimore County and a veteran Republican strategist, said it was particularly important for his party’s candidates to quickly rally around its nominee. “Larry Hogan needs virtually every Republican vote,” Hogan said. “He can’t be dismissive of the Charles Lollar voters or the Ron George voters or the David Craig voters, and he knows that.”

Murphy said that Ehrlich made a mistake in 2010 when he didn’t do enough to reach out to the nearly 25 percent of Republican voters who supported his GOP primary challenger, Brian Murphy.

Those who lost on Tuesday now have to shut down their campaigns and reconfigure their futures. Gansler said he met with staffers and other supporters the day after the primary, thanking them for working long days and sometimes sleeping on couches and floors.

“They were sad. There were tears,” Gansler said in an interview Friday while he traveled with one of his sons to a lacrosse event at Yale University, where Gansler played the sport as an undergraduate and made the All-Ivy team. “A lot of people poured their hearts and souls into the campaign because they wanted to see a change in Maryland and a change in the Democratic Party,” he added.

Gansler said he is excited to finish his last six months as Maryland’s attorney general — “six months is a long time, and there’s a lot to do,” he commented — but he’s not sure what will come after that.

“I feel bad for the little kids in Baltimore who, because we didn’t win, might not have access to a quality education,” said Gansler, who finished a distant third in the city with about 16.5 percent of the Democratic vote. “What’s disappointing and frustrating is that I can’t . . . help the people I’ve wanted to help.”

Gansler, once an early favorite in the race, received 24.2 percent of Tuesday’s votes — far behind Brown’s 51.4 percent and only slightly ahead of Mizeur’s 21.6 percent.

Mizeur promised her supporters that she will not abandon the progressive movement that built up around her candidacy. In a Facebook post Thursday, she said she needs time to rest so she can collect “my thoughts, my energy, and my strategic sense of where we take this next.”

To run for governor, Mizeur had to give up her seat in the Maryland House of Delegates. In an interview Thursday, she said she plans to stay politically active and hopes to share her plans in coming weeks.

“I didn’t run for governor to set myself up for something else down the road,” she said. “I will never walk away from public service, but I don’t know what shape that will take.”

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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