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Gansler wins backing of Baltimore ministers group in Maryland’s race for governor

Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, left. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky). Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gasnsler, right. (Photo by Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post).

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) picked up an endorsement of his gubernatorial bid Thursday from a coalition of ministers at predominantly African American churches in and around Baltimore.

Leaders of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, which has been active in politics since the 1970s, said they had met with both Gansler and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) and decided their agenda is more closely aligned with Gansler’s platform.

The alliance advocates for issues such as crime reduction, school improvement, job opportunities and prison reform.

Gansler “had the more extensive history and leadership,” said the Rev. Alvin J. Gwynn Sr., president of the group, which represents about 50 churches. “He’s been more open and accessible to the African American community, and his platform is more in line with what we want.”

Brown, a former Prince George’s County delegate, would be Maryland’s first black governor if elected. He faces Gansler and Del. Heather R. Mizeur (D-Montgomery) in the June Democratic primary. Gwynn said Mizeur was not interviewed for his group’s endorsement.

Asked for a response to Gansler’s endorsement, the Brown campaign on Thursday released a joint statement from two Baltimore-area ministers with large congregations.

“Over the past seven years, we’ve welcomed Lt. Governor Brown into church nearly every Sunday as he’s visited congregations across Maryland more than 120 times,” said the statement from Bishop Frank M. Reid, pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church, and Dr. Donte L. Hickman, pastor of Southern Baptist Church. “That’s powerful evidence about Anthony’s commitment to the faith community, and because of his strong character and values, many ministers throughout our state are firmly behind him.”

The Baltimore region is an important battleground this year in a primary in which all three major candidates hail from the Washington area.

During the news conference at which the alliance announced its endorsement, Gansler, a former Montgomery County state’s attorney, touched on several of his priorities, including reducing the number of people who return to prison after they serve their sentences.

“They’re people,” Gansler said. “They’re real human beings.”

Gansler also talked about the Charm City Youth Lacrosse League, which he founded in 2009 to give disadvantaged youths in Baltimore a chance to play the sport.

He was accompanied by Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George’s), his running mate, who was also endorsed by the alliance Thursday.

The alliance issued endorsements for several other offices on Thursday, as well, including Maryland attorney general: It sides with Del. Jon S. Cardin (D-Baltimore County), who faces Sen. Brian E. Frosh (D-Montgomery) and Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George’s) in the Democratic primary.

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



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