A Democratic Donnybrook
The Maryland gubernatorial race could get very interesting between now and the primary in June. Both Anthony Brown and Doug Gansler, who appear to be the leading contenders in the Democrat primary, have extremely large war chests, which they likely will exhaust during the next two months.
Neither of them is worried about saving much for the general election, as the winner will have plenty of time between June and November to refill the coffers, not that a whole lot of refilling likely will be needed to vanquish the poor Republican who comes out of the primary in this overwhelmingly and increasingly blue state.
Just a few months ago prevailing wisdom was that Attorney General Gansler was dead, and Lieutenant Governor Brown was going to waltz to victory in June. This was after the twin embarrassments Mr. Gansler suffered, namely the sensational stories of him commandeering his state vehicles and putting the poor state troopers assigned to him in the backseat while he zipped along the shoulders of the road bypassing traffic jams, once even bypassing the governor. And add to that the photographs of him at the beach party on the Delaware shore, and he had a couple of weeks that many thought he would not survive.
However, fate (and President Barack Obama) has thrown Mr. Gansler a lifeline. That is in the form of the overwhelmingly botched rollout of both the federal and Maryland websites tied to the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
By a stroke of luck, it would appear that the one responsibility Gov. Martin O’Malley gave Mr. Brown over the last eight years was to supervise the rollout of the Maryland healthcare website. That rollout has been an unmitigated and unqualified disaster. Just last week we heard that the Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, who is investigating the failures of the federal healthcare website, is also going to look into federal money that was expended on the Maryland website.
None of this can bode well for Mr. Brown. It was revealed recently that the state spent over $65 million with one contractor to construct the website for the Maryland Health Exchange. That contractor has since been fired. It is feared that most – if not all of that money – has been wasted. To this day the website has eluded even the most rudimentary of repairs. Can Mr. Brown actually be the “Teflon Lieutenant Governor” and evade all responsibility for this failure and absolute waste of taxpayer money?
I certainly wouldn’t think so; but, in this Democrat controlled state, who knows. Mr. Brown should be called on the carpet to answer question after question after question about what he did in his one responsibility, which was to supervise the expenditure of public funds on a program that his administration backed to the hilt. Obviously, the job was not done, and at some point the leader of the organization must be held accountable. And that is Mr. Brown.
Whether or not all of these events have tightened this race remains to be seen. But one thing we do know for sure: We are going to be hearing and seeing a lot about this over the next three months.
The story broke last week that both candidates are about to embark on an aggressive saturation media campaign, led by television. That’s right, for the next three months, no matter what you choose to watch on our local network affiliates and independent stations in this region, you are going to be bombarded with advertising, most of it likely negative, to the point I am sure we will all be sick of it by the primary. I am, of course, somewhat partial to radio advertising, and I am sure we will get our fill of that, as well.
My only hope is that through the entire media blitz to which we will be subjected, we will actually learn something worthwhile and useful about these candidates.
I have my doubts, but I do hold out hope.