Maryland Del. Heather R. Mizeur’s lack of a college degree became the latest flashpoint in the state’s Democratic primary for governor on Wednesday.
Without any prompting, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, one of Mizeur’s rivals, brought up the situation twice during a morning radio interview — which Mizeur’s campaign manager later called “elitist” and “out of touch.”
Gansler, during an interview on Baltimore’s WBAL-AM, was asked about recent poll results in The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun showing him and Mizeur (Montgomery) far behind the Democratic front-runner, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, in the June 24 primary.
In making the case that the race is still winnable, Gansler said voters have been slow to tune in to the contest and “are starting to learn about all of us.”
“I literally ran into a woman at the subway this morning that didn’t know that Delegate Mizeur didn’t graduate from college or was a lobbyist for her living,” he said.
Later, when discussing the high percentage of Baltimore high school students who don’t go to college, Gansler added: “Doesn’t mean you’re a bad person if you don’t. As I said, Delegate Mizeur is running for governor; she didn’t graduate from college.”
During the interview, Gansler directed most of his criticism at Brown, whose oversight of the state’s online health insurance exchange Gansler called “an unmitigated disaster.”
Joanna Belanger, Mizeur’s campaign manager, said Gansler’s comments about her candidate were “indicative of the sort of campaigning Heather has been trying to stay out of throughout this race.”
“His constant comments about her college completion are insulting to the 64 percent of Marylanders without a bachelor’s degree and are out-of-touch and elitist,” Belanger said.
Mizeur attended the University of Illinois from 1991 to 1994, when an internship in the Washington office of then-Rep. Marjorie Margolies (D-Pa.) turned into a full-time job.
Mizeur’s career as a Capitol Hill staffer culminated with a position as a domestic policy adviser to then-Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), a job she held until 2006. Mizeur, who never completed her undergraduate work, later became a registered federal lobbyist.
Gansler’s comments also prompted a statement from Brown, a former delegate from Prince George’s County, who noted that he has worked with Mizeur over the past eight years.
“If Doug Gansler is suggesting she isn’t qualified, then he is simply ignoring the important contributions Heather has made on issues of critical importance to Marylanders, such as domestic violence, women’s and children’s health and education — just to name a few,” Brown said.
The Post poll, published Tuesday, showed Brown with support of 46 percent of likely voters, followed by Gansler with 23 percent and Mizeur with 16 percent. A poll published Sunday by the Baltimore Sun showed a similar dynamic.