Monday night saw the final Maryland gubernatorial debate for the Democratic Party as Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, Attorney General Doug Gansler and state Delegate Heather Mizeur faced off on the issues facing their respective campaigns. Each candidate had something to answer for. Maryland, a blue state, has elected only two Republican governors in the last 50 years.
Issues facing the candidates in this election are multifold. Marijuana legalization, the botched healthcare roll out, and under age drinking were all topics hit on in the debate. Attorney General Gansler took time to assert that lobbyists are running Annapolis, and pointing out that Delegate Mizeur is a lobbyist. In fact, Attorney General Gansler spent much of the night on the attack, and Lieutenant Governor Brown took a lot of hits on Maryland’s failed healthcare exchange.
Lieutenant Governor Brown was the man in charge of out going Governor Martin O’Malley’s healthcare rollout. At this time, Maryland is 45th in the country when it comes to enrollment. As the man at point, Lieutenant Governor Brown has much to answer for concerning the healthcare exchange, and seemed to be content to pass the buck instead. Saying that he did not start to head the program until October, and once he was there, he demanded action. As stated, Maryland is still 45th in enrollment, even with Lieutenant Governor Brown in charge.
Attorney General Gansler also had things to say in response to Delegate Mizeur’s legalization program. Delegate Mizeur wants to use proceeds from marijuana legalization to fund a universal pre-Kindergarten program for Maryland children. Attorney General Gansler showed his ambivalence to the issue by stating his discomfort with the idea of teenagers cruising into a convenience store for junk food and a bag of pot.
Taxes were a major issue for the candidates in the final debate. Attorney General Gansler has proposed reducing the income tax for corporations in Maryland from a little over eight percent to six percent. Lieutenant Governor Brown disagrees with such a plan. When it comes to taxes, the lieutenant governor is in support of tax reform. He complained about the estate tax relief passed the General Assembly this year, saying that if he was governor, such relief would never reach his desk. The estate tax relief effects Maryland’s 1,000 most wealthy families. Lieutenant Governor Brown says he is more interested in tax reform for the poorest of families.
Delegate Mizeur stands with the poor and middle class as well. She is calling for an accelerated timeline for the state’s minimum wage increase. Explaining that the next governor will be campaigning for their second term by the time the scheduled increase occurs, Delegate Mizeur would like to see that happen faster.
In this final Democratic gubernatorial debate in Maryland, the candidates plated the same roles they had in the past. Delegate Mizeur continued to focus on her platform while her opponents focused on each other. Lieutenant Governor Brown played defense while Attorney General Gansler played offense. Whether it was the troubled health care debut or his campaign fundraising, Attorney General Gansler kept striking at Lieutenant Brown. Reportedly, many voters left the debate still undecided.
By Bryan Levy