The Democratic Governors Association has purchased two more weeks of television ads in Maryland amid signs that the gubernatorial contest between Democrat Anthony G. Brown and Republican Larry Hogan remains competitive.
A poll released Wednesday suggested that the race in the traditionally blue state has tightened in recent months, with Brown, the lieutenant governor, holding a narrow edge over Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman.
The DGA previously spent about $750,000 on three weeks of ads in the Baltimore market that attack Hogan’s record on social issues, including his past opposition to abortion rights. The ads, which call Hogan’s positions “dangerous” and “radical,” have been branded “deceitful” by the Republican candidate.
The latest DGA outlay in the heavily Democratic state will keep ads on the air on Baltimore stations through mid-October. The purchase appears to be roughly $400,000, based on publicly available records and people familiar with the buy.
Danny Kanner, a DGA spokesman, said Wednesday that the association, which helps elect Democratic governors around the country, “is committed to ensuring Maryland remains a blue state and that Anthony Brown is elected the next governor.”
Hogan spokesman Adam Dubitsky said the DGA’s continued involvement “shows this is a tight race and Brown is in jeopardy of losing in a 2-to-1 Democratic state.”
The poll released Wednesday by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies suggests the race is closer than many expected it would be.
Brown leads Hogan 47 percent to 43 percent in the poll, which also shows that 1 percent of likely voters in the governor’s race favor Libertarian Shawn Quinn and 9 percent are undecided.
While the survey was conducted for the Maryland, My Maryland PAC, an independent group that supports Hogan’s bid for governor, Gonzales does not have a partisan track record and has a long history of polling in Maryland.
Brown campaign manager Justin Schall was dismissive of the results, saying: “It’s hard to imagine anyone would believe a poll from a group that has a clear Republican agenda, especially when independent polling paints a much different picture.”
The Brown campaign pointed to a poll released last month that showed Brown ahead by a larger margin, but that survey was based on a non-random, online sample of poll takers that does not meet the standards for The Washington Post.
A Post poll conducted in June found Brown leading Hogan 51 percent to 33 percent among all registered voters in a hypothetical matchup. Both were still competing in their respective primary contests at the time.
The Gonzales poll reportedly has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
The firm said it projected that 25 percent of voters will be African American. If black turnout is higher in November, that is likely to favor Brown, who would be Maryland’s first African American governor and the fourth in the nation since Reconstruction.
According to the Census Bureau, African Americans accounted for 28 percent of the Maryland electorate in 2010, the last year in which the state held a gubernatorial contest, and 27 percent in 2006.
Hogan held a campaign event Wednesday afternoon in Annapolis that appeared designed, in part, to blunt attacks on him by Brown and the Democratic governors group.
Several dozen Hogan supporters gathered outside the State House wearing pink “Women for Hogan” T-shirts, and speakers talked in mostly solemn terms about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month, both of which are designated in October.
The emcee was one of Hogan’s daughters, Jaymi Sterling, who also appears in a Hogan campaign ad in which she says her father is not “anti-woman.”
Sterling says her father favors making birth control available over the counter and is “committed to not changing current Maryland law on choice.” Democratic TV ads have suggested otherwise.
In addressing the gathering, Hogan pledged to increase state funding for screening for breast and cervical cancer. He also praised Maryland’s overwhelmingly Democratic legislature for passing three bills this year related to domestic violence, including one that could stiffen sentences for acts of violence committed in front of a child.
All three bills were sponsored by the administration of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), and Brown played a leading role pushing for their passage.
“I don’t disagree with them on every single issue,” Hogan told reporters after the event.
Brown also got a nod Wednesday from a group that focuses on women’s issues. NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC endorsed his candidacy for governor, citing his support for access to birth control and other issues.