In formally unveiling Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s) as his running mate Monday, Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Douglas F. Gansler created an all-Washington-region ticket, defying one of the traditional geographic dictates of state politics: Candidates anchored in the District’s suburbs typically choose someone from the Baltimore region, and vice versa.
But Gansler, Maryland’s attorney general and a former Montgomery County state’s attorney, has cast himself as the anti-establishment outsider in the race. And as he introduced Ivey, 52, as his choice for lieutenant governor at an event Monday at High Point High School in Beltsville, her alma mater, he said he had found the ideal partner “as we take on the establishment, as we take on the status quo.”
What Gansler had hoped would be a celebratory day had an awkward start. As soon as he pulled up to the high school, he was swarmed by reporters barking questions about written accounts by the Maryland State Police that said the attorney general had encouraged troopers assigned to drive him to use lights and sirens and to speed on the way to routine appointments.
Gansler ignored the questions, and his aides hustled him to a podium set up outside the school, where Ivey’s father taught for 10 years.
Gansler spokesman Bob Wheelock declared the event “a terrific start” for the new ticket and said the campaign remained undeterred by The Washington Post article about the troopers’ reports or the intense media interest in following up on it.
“We’re going on,” Wheelock said. “We’re moving forward. We have got a lot of issues to talk about, which people see as the key to this campaign.”
In a short speech, Gansler, 50, praised Ivey as someone with a history of fighting discrimination who would make a difference in real people’s lives as Maryland’s next lieutenant governor.
Ivey said she was honored to join Gansler’s ticket to give “voice to the voiceless.” The two-term lawmaker pledged that she would help Gansler press to raise the minimum wage and close a persistent minority achievement gap in the state’s schools.
“I understand what it takes to fight for the issues and ideas you believe in and get the legislature to act, and I look forward to working with Doug to pass an agenda that will put middle-class and working families front and center,” Ivey said.
The event wrapped up in 22 minutes, and Gansler once again ducked reporters, who tried to cut off his path to his vehicle to ask questions about the troopers’ allegations.
Gansler appeared more relaxed later in the afternoon in Baltimore, where he drew a more modest crowd and far fewer reporters. He appeared with two Democrats from the city — Baltimore Comptroller Joan M. Pratt and Del. Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. — who had been on Gansler’s short list for a running mate.
In a brief interview, Gansler said that Baltimore “is critical to our success” and noted that the attorney general’s office is there and that Ivey had spent part of her early career as a journalist working there.
“Both people in our ticket have been very much involved in Baltimore over the years,” said Gansler, who started a youth lacrosse league in the city.
He also argued that his ticket is far more connected to Baltimore than that of his chief rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who has named Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) as his running mate. Brown’s aides took issue with that claim, pointing to a healthy list of early endorsements from the city, including one from its mayor.
The selection of Ivey appeared to be aimed in part at helping make Gansler more competitive in Prince George’s County, Brown’s home county.
Ivey is chairman of the Prince George’s delegation in the House of Delegates and the wife of Glenn F. Ivey, the county’s former state’s attorney. Glenn Ivey and four of the couple’s five sons stood behind her as Gansler touted her selection at both of Monday’s events.
The Iveys also are close friends with Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D), who has not endorsed a candidate in the governor’s race.
If elected, Brown would be the first African American governor in Maryland history. Ivey said that her election also would be historic, noting that she would be the first Democratic African American woman in the country to be a lieutenant governor. (A black Republican woman, Jennifer Carroll, has served in Florida.)
“In the end,” Ivey said, “here is the new reality at the start of this campaign — our ticket won’t just make history, we will make a difference in the lives of people.”
Over the weekend, The Post reported that when troopers refused to use lights and sirens while driving Gansler, he often would activate the emergency equipment himself, according to written accounts by the State Police, which were obtained in response to a request under the Maryland Public Information Act.
In a 2011 memo, Lt. Charles Ardolini, commander of the State Police executive protection section, wrote that Gansler had “consistently acted in a way that disregards public safety, our Troopers’ safety and even the law.”
In a statement Sunday, Gansler’s campaign said that documents obtained by The Post “do not in any way paint a complete or accurate picture of the Attorney General and his security detail.” The statement said Gansler deeply respects the troopers “and the job they do protecting me and the public.”
Ivey, who was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2006, has focused on issues related to children and families during her tenure in the General Assembly.
She was supportive of efforts to legalize same-sex marriage and authorize a casino in Prince George’s. Earlier this year, Ivey was a proponent of Baker’s effort to take control of the Prince George’s school system.
Gansler said Monday that Ivey “understands in her heart and in her soul what it means to stand for human dignity and fairness, and she will take on discrimination and bias and hate and sexism and homophobia in all its forms.”
Ivey will be required to give up her seat in the legislature next year to run with Gansler.
Gansler faces a highly competitive primary in June against Brown and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery).