Dirty Tricks and Ganslerís Run
As we are all too aware, 2014 is a statewide election year in Maryland. I expected things to heat up a little bit earlier than usual because of the change in the schedule, which moves the primary from September to June.
But what we have witnessed in the gubernatorial race over the last month is a surprise – even to me.
In the Democrat race for governor, the two front runners have long been Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler. Del. Heather Mizeur, of Montgomery County, recently threw her hat into the ring and will be looking to steal some votes from the far left. But I still think Mr. Brown and Mr. Gansler will fight it out for their party’s nomination.
Many are wondering just whom Mr. Gansler would select as his running mate. Earlier this month he selected Del. Jolene Ivey, of Prince George’s County. But that was not the most interesting thing that happened.
Within days of this selection leaking into the media, Mr. Gansler was hit with reports that he had essentially commandeered his state-issued SUV from the troopers who had been assigned to drive him. This was front page news not only here, but around the country.
Apparently the attorney general is somewhat impatient and doesn’t like to sit in traffic. According to the reports, he would order the troopers to turn on the lights and use the shoulders if necessary to bypass traffic jams. I thought the most amusing story out of all of this was that he got antsy sitting in traffic on I-97 between Baltimore and Annapolis, had the trooper engage the flashers, and took to the shoulder. As he is speeding along, he passes the motorcade carrying Gov. Martin O’Malley, dutifully sitting in the traffic. Apparently that was the last straw for some.
These stories all culminated in a leak that the attorney general’s vehicle received a speed-camera ticket in the amount of $200.00. There was some dispute as to who was driving at the time, but the AG paid the ticket, doubled due to its last payment. I think that answers that question.
Then, within a matter of weeks, a picture is circulated on the Internet of the attorney general present at a party in Delaware during “beach week,” and where – allegedly – there was underage drinking. This also made national news.
I have some thoughts on these two back-to-back attacks on the attorney general. First, he was an idiot for acting the way he did in his vehicle. The troopers were assigned to drive him, and thus protect him, even from himself, if necessary. Mr. Gansler should have understood that, respected their duties, and allowed them to do their job, particularly as the top lawyer in the state. He deserves all the ridicule he has received for acting like an impatient teenager.
On the party in Delaware I have to cut him a little slack. There is no evidence whatsoever that he had anything to do with planning the party or was involved in it in any way. He says he went there to find his son, and I believe him. At some point a parent, even an attorney general, cannot control a child and his or her friends. How Mr. Gansler chooses to raise his kids is his business, not ours.
But there is one element that ties these two incidents together. And that is they were leaked, obviously by political enemies, at a time calculated to do the most damage. We learned of these shortly after the announcement of what seemed to be an inspired choice of a running mate, no doubt with the intent of blunting that message and replacing it with a negative one.
Although it may prove to be effective, if that’s what Anthony Brown thinks he needs to do to beat Doug Gansler, I will not be looking forward to such a result.