Maryland gubernatorial primary candidates spend Sunday talking and listening to voters

June 22

With fewer than 48 hours until polls open for the Maryland gubernatorial primary Tuesday, most candidates used Sunday to talk with as many voters as possible, inviting reporters along to watch and listen.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, the front-runner in the Democratic race, could not be located until Sunday evening, when he allowed reporters to witness him visiting a campaign office in Silver Spring.

Brown said he spent the day visiting two large Prince George’s County churches and greeting shoppers in nearby grocery stores.

The campaign’s Twitter account, @BrownforMD, chronicled a Sunday “caravan” tour with stops at the Baltimore Latino Fest and a campaign office in Howard County.

But as of 7:30 p.m., the tweeted photos showed Brown’s running mate, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, and not the candidate himself.

A Washington Post poll earlier this month found that 46 percent of likely Democratic voters support Brown — putting him 23 percentage points ahead of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) and 30 points ahead of Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery).

Even with that large a lead, Brown has said that he will not be “lulled into complacency.”

“There’s a newly coined verb in the campaign world . . . ‘Don’t get Cantored,’ ” Brown said Friday during an interview on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU 88.5, referring to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who suffered a stunning primary loss earlier this month.

Gansler got off to a frustrating start in Towson on Sunday when a young campaign staffer locked his keys in his car — along with fliers and other campaign materials that Gansler had planned to use while knocking on doors and chatting with voters.

“You get what you pay for,” a frustrated Gansler said of the 20-something’s mistake to two reporters who had tagged along to watch the candidate door-knock in an apartment complex while sprinting back and forth across the street.

Gansler briefly talked with two voters, both men, and left handwritten notes on several doors of known Democrats: “Sorry I missed you. Doug.”

Most candidates don’t waste their time with door-knocking because it’s time-consuming and difficult to catch voters at home, especially on a beautiful summer afternoon.

But Gansler said he finds it invaluable. (Although he struck out in Towson, he had better luck later in the afternoon.)

“You get a feel for the neighborhoods and the issues there,” he said.

Gansler took a break at Uncle Wiggly’s Deli and Ice Cream in Baltimore, ordering coffee and a dulce de leche milkshake. He was quickly recognized. A Republican-turned-independent said he would vote for Gansler if he could because of the candidate’s moderate stances, especially on taxes. One woman said that she recognized Gansler’s voice from his television ads.

Another woman promised to vote for him because Annapolis needs a change. And an older man scolded the attorney general for running a negative campaign that left “a bad taste in my mouth.”

“Would you like me to buy you a milkshake?” Gansler offered. He said he had been forced to attack Brown on substantive issues when the lieutenant governor unfairly went after his family.

“Thank you for your support,” Gansler told the man. “I’ll try to be nice.”

Republican gubernatorial hopeful Larry Hogan continued a bus tour of the state on Sunday with stops in rural western Maryland. Harford County Executive David Craig, another GOP hopeful, chatted with voters and other politicians at a picnic at the American Veterans Post in Frederick. There was fried chicken, coleslaw, live music and nearly nonstop talk of taxes.

In chatting with a candidate for Orphan’s Court judge in Frederick, Craig explained why one family in his church is moving to Florida.

“All because of taxes,” Craig said, shaking his head and adjusting his cap. He says high taxes have pushed thousands of residents out of Maryland. Craig has proposed gradually abolishing the state’s income tax.

Democratic hopeful Mizeur also invited reporters to watch her interact with voters at two farmers markets, a Unitarian church and a deli.

At a market in Bethesda, she shook hands, petted dogs and repeatedly said: “I would love to be able to earn your vote on Tuesday.”

She gushed about the grass-roots support she has been receiving, especially in Baltimore, where her campaign has aired the most television ads.

“We’re rocking in Baltimore,” she told a man who said he e-mailed his friends a list of candidates they should vote for on Tuesday, including Mizeur.

In talking with two women who said they were undecided, Mizeur rattled off her priorities — increasing the minimum wage higher and more quickly than planned, closing corporate tax loopholes, reinstating the millionaires’ tax and opening free pre-kindergarten classes to all 4-year-olds, using revenue from taxing legalized marijuana.

“You have my vote,” one woman said. The other nodded. Mizeur high-fived both of them — and then asked them each to find five friends to do the same.

At one point, a woman carrying bags of produce wished Mizeur good luck.

“I don’t need luck,” Mizeur responded. “I need your vote.”

Jenna Johnson writes about Maryland politics, including the General Assembly, the administration of Gov. Martin O'Malley and the 2014 election.
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