Gansler to push Metro stop at National Harbor, law school at Bowie State University


Douglas F. Gansler made the formal announcement that he is running for governor of Maryland at Montgomery County Courthouse Square in downtown Rockville on Tuesday. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)
September 25, 2013

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) said Wednesday that, if elected governor, he would push to extend Metro rail service to National Harbor and to establish a law school at Bowie State University.

His pledges came as Gansler addressed an audience in Prince George’s County on the second day of a weeklong gubernatorial announcement tour.

The speech Gansler delivered at his first stop in Rockville on Tuesday has remained largely intact as he has traveled around the state on what is scheduled to be a 17-stop tour.

Speaking Wednesday night to close to 200 people at the University Town Center Plaza in Hyattsville, Gansler cast himself as the outsider in the Democratic primary, said he got into politics to “give voice to the voiceless” and pledged to focus on job creation, education and other issues that would help the middle-class thrive.

As he has at in other stops, Gansler also peppered his address with several promises and other observations tailored to his local audience.

Besides his pledges related to a new Metro stop and law school Wednesday, he criticized the current administration for how long it has taken to make good on a 2006 campaign promise to move the headquarters of a state agency to Prince George’s.

In May, a state board approved a plan put forward by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) to relocate the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development from Anne Arundel County to a site near the New Carrollton Metro station.

“We shouldn’t have to wait seven years in Prince George’s County for leaders to fulfill their promise to bring a key government office to the county,” Gansler said. “The county matters every day, not just in an election year.”

Though Gansler did not mention him by name, his swipe was directed as much at Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), his chief rival for the Democratic nomination next year , as it was O’Malley. Brown is a former delegate from Prince George’s.

A third Democrat, Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery), is also seeking the party’s nomination in a state where Democrats hold a more than 2-to-1 advantage over Republicans in party registration.

The prospect of a Metro station at National Harbor has been talked about for several years, but there are no current plans to extend the rail system to the 300-acre mini-city on the banks of the Potomac River.

Gansler said he would work to extend a line across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge from the Huntington station in Virginia — a need made greater, he said, by the likelihood that a casino will open at National Harbor in coming years.

The state is currently weighing three bids for a new casino in Prince George’s, including one by MGM Resorts to build an $800 million facility at National Harbor.

“National Harbor is one of the crown jewels of Prince George’s County, but it’s an island right now,” Gansler said in a brief interview following his event in Hyattsville.

He and others have made the case in recent years for a law school at Bowie State University, a historically black institution, arguing it could help create more minority lawyers and would be conveniently located.

Justin Schall, Brown’s campaign manager, declined to comment on Gansler’s jab about the housing department move or any particular plans he outlined Wednesday night.

But, Schall said: “I look forward to Doug’s explanation about how he plans to pay for all of his generous campaign promises , starting with his $1.5 billion dollar corporate tax give away.”

That was a reference to a plan previously floated by Gansler to reduce Maryland's corporate income tax rate from 8.25 percent to 6 percent to match the rate in Virginia.

Legislative analysts estimated a similar proposal would cost the state roughly $1.5 billion in lost revenue over five years. Gansler argues the loss would be offset by additional job creation.

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