The Washington Post

Gansler still awaiting word from fellow Democrats on outside spending pledge

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler at a news conference last month. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) has not been able to get a definitive answer from either of his fellow Democrats running for governor in the week since he asked them to join him in a pledge to curb outside spending on the race.

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), Gansler’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination next year, told reporters Monday that he is “looking at the pledge,” but he voiced reservations about whether it would silence people who band together with others in their profession to try to influence the governor’s race.

“There are hundreds if not thousands of Marylanders — teachers and firefighters and police officers — that every month make a small contribution in order to support causes and campaigns,” Brown said following an event at which he received the endorsement of Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) “I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything to deprive them of their ability to participate in a campaign.”

Gansler proposed last week that he and his two rivals sign a pledge that would discourage independent entities from spending money on television, radio or online advertising that names any of the candidates, or on direct mail that does that. If such spending occurred, the candidate who benefited would have to pay 50 percent of the cost to a charity chosen by the other contenders. The pledge would “let Marylanders decide who their next governor should be,” Gansler said last week.

Gansler’s idea is modeled on the “people’s pledge” taken by the 2012 U.S. Senate candidates in Massachusetts, Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren.

Brown probably has the most to lose if the concept is adopted in Maryland. His campaign has been endorsed by several labor groups with a history of spending money on their preferred candidates.

The gubernatorial campaign of Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) also stopped short Monday of offering a definitive word on Gansler’s proposal.

“Heather is a strong proponent of clean campaigns and finance reform,” Mizeur’s campaign manager, Joanna Belanger, said in a statement. “We appreciate the Gansler campaign’s initiative and are taking his proposal under advisement.”

Brown also told reporters Monday that Gansler had not reached out to him directly about his proposed pledge.

“I read about it last week in the newspaper,” Brown said. “As we said last week, we’re looking at the pledge.”

Gansler spokesman Bob Wheelock said copies of the pledge were delivered Wednesday to the campaign headquarters of Brown and Mizeur.

A handful of Gansler supporters showed up outside Brown’s endorsement event on Monday with signs urging Brown to sign the pledge.

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

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