The Washington Post

Despite controversies, Gansler says campaign is eager to talk about ‘the issues’

Douglas F. Gansler. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post)

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said Friday that his gubernatorial campaign remains focused on issues Marylanders care about, even as he was still dogged by reporters about a beach house party he attended with apparent underage drinking.

Gansler was stopped by reporters with questions about the June party in Delaware on both his way in and out of a luncheon in Wheaton commemorating Emancipation Day in Maryland, when slaves were freed upon the adoption of the state constitution in 1864.

“People want to talk about the issues,” Gansler said. “I think they’re past that. ... We’re running the same campaign we’ve been running from the beginning. We’re running a campaign based on ideas, my record, our vision for the state of Maryland.”

Gansler ticked off issues that include job creation, tax policy, budget deficits and a minority achievement gap in state schools.

His campaign, which Gansler formally launched in late September, has spent a great deal of time lately responding to other matters, including a story that first appeared in the Baltimore Sun last week about the beach house party. The party took place in a rental house in South Bethany where Gansler’s son was staying with other recent graduates of the Landon School in Bethesda. Gansler has said he stopped by only briefly to talk to his son about leaving Delaware the following morning.

The Post also reported last month about written allegations by the Maryland State Police that Gansler regularly ordered troopers assigned to drive him to speed and run red lights even on the way to routine appointments.

On Friday, Gansler was asked about recent comments by his Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), that his campaign was not behind the negative stories about Gansler.

“I’ve got a bridge to sell you,” Gansler replied. “But here’s the thing: For 21 years, I’ve been in law enforcement … and no one’s ever questioned my judgment or my character. … All of sudden, I announce I’m running for governor and — poof! — a couple things show up.”

Brown campaign manager Justin Schall issued a statement later Friday saying: “Doug Gansler is responsible for his own behavior, and we had nothing to do with his behavior being uncovered by the media.”

Gansler was also asked Friday about television reports Thursday that a new video had emerged showing Gansler at the beach house party. The video had actually been circulating since last week.

“I haven’t seen any videos ever about this actually,” Gansler said. “But my understanding is it’s not a new video. It’s the same video that’s been shown over and over by the press, and there’s nothing on it that’s new or different than anything else that’s been discussed ad nauseam or at great length.

The event in Wheaton was related to legislation passed by the General Assembly creating Emancipation Day in Maryland. Gansler’s running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), was the House sponsor. Gansler joined her at the luncheon.

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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