Maryland GOP gubernatorial hopefuls to meet for one final (tape-delayed) forum on television


Republican gubernatorial candidates, from left: David R. Craig, Ronald A. George, Larry Hogan and Charles Lollar at a June 2 debate. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

The four Republicans vying to be the next governor of Maryland are slated to meet Thursday for one final televised forum in advance of the June 24 primary.

The event, hosted by NBC4 in Washington, is scheduled to air Sunday at 7 a.m. — the latest in a series of tape-delayed broadcasts for the Republican hopefuls. (All three televised debates this year featuring the Democratic gubernatorial candidates have aired live in prime time.)

NBC4 says all four GOP hopefuls are participating, including Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Del. Ronald A. George (Anne Arundel), Anne Arundel County businessman Larry Hogan and Charles County businessman Charles Lollar.

A Washington Post poll published Tuesday showed Hogan leading among likely Republican voters, with the support of 35 percent. He is followed by Craig with 19 percent, Lollar with 13 percent and George with 5 percent.

In a hypothetical general election matchup with Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, the Democratic front-runner, Hogan is trailing 51 percent to 33 percent in the heavily Democratic state.

The Democratic hopefuls have no more planned forums or debates before the primary.

On Tuesday, six candidates from both parties appeared together at a forum in Ocean City hosted by the Maryland Municipal League. All four Republicans were there, along with Democrats Brown and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. Del. Heather R. Mizeur (Montgomery) skipped the event, with her aides citing a scheduling conflict.

The hopefuls from both parties found common ground on one issue: Boosting funding from the state to local and county governments for road improvements.

Starting in fiscal 2008, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) dramatically cut so-called “highway user revenue” flowing to counties and local governments in order to balance the state budget. All six candidates, including Brown, agreed Tuesday that the practice should end — a stance that pleased the audience of municipal officials.

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