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Gansler opens Baltimore office, says he’ll be ‘somebody who cares about the city’

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) pledged Saturday that if elected governor of Maryland, he would make it a priority to help Baltimore, a city that he said has high taxes, too few jobs, too many low-performing schools and a crime rate that is “out of control.”

“We need to get somebody who cares about the city into office, and that’s going to be us,” Gansler said as he opened a regional campaign office in Baltimore at an event where he was joined by his running mate, Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), and several dozen supporters.

In brief remarks, Gansler said he is committed to closing the minority achievement gap in Maryland schools and touted the idea of high-speed rail between Washington and Baltimore, which he said would bring more residents and tourists to Maryland’s largest city.

All three major Democratic gubernatorial campaigns this year are making appeals to Baltimore voters without the benefit of anyone on their tickets who lives in the city. Unlike in previous races, most of the candidates hail from the Washington region.

Gansler, a former state’s attorney from Montgomery County, and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) both looked to Prince George’s County for lieutenant governor candidates.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), a Prince George’s resident, tapped Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D), who leads a jurisdiction that straddles the Washington and Baltimore regions.

Gansler sought to make the case Saturday that his ticket is most in touch with Baltimore’s needs, proclaiming: “We are the Baltimore candidates.”

Among other things, Gansler noted that Ivey graduated from Towson University, just north of the city, and that the attorney general’s office is located in Baltimore.

“Our opponents couldn’t find Baltimore City with a map,” Gansler said.

He also took another shot at Brown, who moved to Maryland in 1992, a few months after graduating from Harvard Law School.

“I was an Orioles season ticket holder before my opponent set foot in Maryland,” Gansler said, later explaining that he held that status for about a decade, starting in 1989, the year he graduated from law school at the University of Virginia.

Brown, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2007, opened a regional campaign office in Baltimore in December. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) and Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young (D) are among 30 elected officials from the city who have endorsed Brown’s candidacy.

A spokesman for Brown’s campaign, which operates out of its headquarters in Upper Marlboro, had no comment Saturday on Gansler’s remarks.

Sen. Catherine E. Pugh (D-Baltimore), a Brown supporter, said she was troubled by some of what Gansler said.

“I don’t want anyone using Baltimore as a punching bag,” Pugh said. “The commitment that the governor and lieutenant governor have made over the past eight years has helped move the city forward, and I expect that to continue.”

Pugh cited a major infusion of school construction funds for Baltimore approved last year by the General Assembly with the support of Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration.

Gansler’s new Baltimore office is in long-vacant office space near the University of Baltimore.

At Saturday’s event, Del. Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr. (D-Baltimore), a co-chairman of Gansler’s campaign in the city, told supporters he had heard concerns that there isn’t a Baltimore candidate on Gansler’s ticket. But he said he had sought to assuage them by saying he had seen Ivey “fight for us in the House of Delegates.”

“When they say we don’t have a balanced ticket, in my opinion, we have a great ticket,” Mitchell said.

Ivey told the crowd that she had been proud to support the bill last year that boosts school construction spending in Baltimore and that she sees many similarities between the city and Prince George’s, the county she represents.

“We have a lot of the same strengths, and we have a lot of the same challenges,” Ivey said.

Mizeur, whose headquarters are in Silver Spring, does not have a campaign office in Baltimore but has a “strong organizing team there,” according to a spokesman.

Gansler, whose campaign headquarters is also in Silver Spring, is planning to open nine regional offices in coming weeks, including one in Prince George’s next weekend, a campaign spokeswoman said.

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



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