Gansler goes after Brown on health-care leadership in new negative Web ad in Md.

November 21, 2013

The Maryland gubernatorial campaign of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler released a Web ad on Thursday knocking Gansler’s chief Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, for the state’s rocky rollout of the President Obama’s new health-care law.

The negative ad builds on an argument that Gansler has been aggressively pushing in the last few days: that Brown, who co-chairs a council that oversees health-care reform in Maryland, has mismanaged the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in the state.

The ad is styled to look like a number of Bing searches are being conducted online, each asking a question about Brown, such as “How did Brown do implementing the Affordable Care Act in Maryland?”

In response, viewers are shown video clips of Brown and images of media reports, including a story published in The Washington Post this week that reported Maryland is struggling with stubborn technological problems with its online insurance exchange and posting weaker numbers than other states than are running their own exchanges.

In one clip, Brown acknowledges: “Maryland and a number of other states stumbled out of the gate.”

Brown campaign manager Justin Schall shot back, saying Gansler was trying to deflect attention from his own campaign difficulties.

“It’s been a really bad month for Doug, so it’s not surprising that he is so desperate, but it’s still disappointing he sounds like Republicans attacking Obamamcare,” Schall said.

Schall also accused Gansler of being hypocritical, saying he had skipped most meetings of the council overseeing health-care reform in Maryland during the past three years “and now he ... launches his first ad of the campaign by negatively attacking us.”

Gansler spokesman Bob Wheelock said Gansler had sent a high-level representative to meetings of the council he missed and that his commitment to the Affordable Care Act is clear. Among other things, Gansler’s office participated in the defense of the federal law before the U.S. Supreme Court, Wheelock said.

The Gansler campaign also noted that it had released a positive Web video about Gansler shortly before his entrance into the race in September.

In an interview Thursday, Gansler said the new Web ad is part of his campaign’s effort to draw a contrast with Brown.

“We really want to focus the campaign on records, leadership and vision,” Gansler said. “We welcome a fair comparison of my level of accomplishment versus the lieutenant governor’s role in office, to the extent he’s played an actual role in any of this administration’s policies.”

Gansler made his comments outside an appearance at Walker Mill Middle School in Capitol Heights, where he discouraged students from participating in “cyber-bullying.”

Gansler and Brown also face Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) in the June Democratic primary.

This report has been updated.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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