Mizeur stays positive and refuses to criticize fellow Maryland gubernatorial hopefuls


Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery) speaks during a Maryland democratic primary gubernatorial debate at the University of Maryland in College Park on Wednesday. (Sarah L. Voisin / The Washington Post) (Sarah L. Voisin/AP)

As Heather R. Mizeur campaigns to become the next governor of Maryland, she has refused to directly attack her democratic opponents in a mission to focus solely on substantive policy issues. But staying positive could come at a price.

During the first democratic gubernatorial debate on Wednesday night, Mizeur scolded her two opponents — Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler — for bickering instead of discussing issues. But lobbing accusations earned them more airtime and attention.

On Friday morning, Mizeur, a state delegate from Montgomery County, was a guest on the “Kojo Nnamdi Show” on WAMU 88.5 and responded to a call from “Judy in Silver Spring,”who said that she had listened to the debate.

“I’m very impressed with you, Ms. Mizeur,” the caller said. “And I think I’m definitely going to vote for you. I think that I am in the minority, however.”

Even though voters often say they want candidates to be positive, the caller said, they tend to only listen to the negative. “I think that making constructive criticism is different than you attacking your opponents,” she said. “And I would like to see you make some constructive criticisms about your opponents, because otherwise I’m not sure you’re not going to get the attention of other people.”

Mizeur said she will not attack Brown or Gansler, both of whom have raised much more money than she has and have been ahead in the polls. But she will point out differences in their stances on issues. For example: Mizeur wants Maryland to pass a paycheck fairness law to reduce the gap between what women and men are paid, something Congress has yet to do. Mizeur said that after she put that plan out, Brown commented that Maryland has already made strides on this issue and that the state’s own pay gap is less than the national average.

“It fails to address the urgency that we’re not done with this until there is no discrepancy, until we are at 100 percent of the same wages,” Mizeur said during the radio show. “And I was willing to make a very strong, public statement in response to that.”

But Mizeur repeatedly refused to comment on Brown’s possible role in the disastrous launch of a state health insurance online marketplace. She instead listed off ideas for addressing the underlying problems with the exchange and for getting more Marylanders enrolled.

“I think that the voters, journalists and others deserve to ask questions of accountability,” Mizeur said. “My personal opinion about this, as another candidate in the race, no matter what I say will be viewed through a political lens. And I just want to stay focused on how we fix the problem.”

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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