While the field of candidates in many state and local races is thin, there is no shortage of people running to replace Gov. Martin O'Malley, who isn't eligible to run for re-election.
Six Democrats and four Republicans are angling for the state chief executive's job. The field on both sides is strong and, unlike in many years past when the Democratic primary has decided the race, there's reason to believe the general election will be hotly contested.
On the Democratic side, O'Malley's lieutenant governor, Anthony Brown and state Attorney General Doug Gansler are the heavyweights. Both can claim statewide appeal, having been on winning statewide tickets. Both have reasonable management experience, Brown having overseen key O'Malley Administration efforts, Gansler in coordinating the state prosecutor's office. Both also have their flaws, Brown being the point person for the nationally shamed state healthcare rollout and Gansler having been hit by a series of scandals and gaffes during his campaign. The strongest of the other candidates, Del. Heather Mizeur, has a solid legislative record and is a strong advocate for, and unapologetic about, liberal or progressive policies. She's a rather refreshing option. Her campaign has made no secret that her strategy is to hope the other two split the vote and she manages to finish ahead in the primary.
Of the three, we give the edge to Brown, though with some misgivings. Brown hasn't been clear about his role in the state's botched health insurance launch, a role where he played Maryland's official point-person on health care reform. However, it appears his role was more symbolic and that it was really Martin O'Malley who, as governor, deserves the bulk of criticism for the troubles with the launch. On the positive side, we believe Brown to be a thoughtful and dedicated public servant who, along with O'Malley, helped to make the state a better place than they found it eight years ago.
In addition, Brown's running mate, current Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, is an excellent choice. That's why we recommend Anthony Brown as the Democratic nominee for governor.
On the Republican side, Harford County native, and current county executive David R. Craig is among the contenders. Also running for the GOP nomination for governor are Ron George a state delegate small business owner; Larry Hogan, who served in the cabinet of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.; and Charles Lollar, a Marine who served in Kosovo and has since earned an MBA.
Hogan is the front runner and with his Ehrlich credentials has experience in managing at the state government level.
Craig, however, has had substantial success in managing Harford County's budget in a time of economic crisis and has held tax county tax rates in check without adversely affecting services. This was done at a time when Ehrlich, as governor, was increasing fees and lamenting the state's lack of casino income, followed by O'Malley increasing taxes even as casino revenue was coming into the state.
Craig has solid executive experience in managing the budget of the sixth largest jurisdiction in Maryland. He also has experience in the state's legislative branch, having served in both the House and the Senate, and he is a career educator, having retired from Harford County Public Schools.
We recommend Republicans in Howard County vote for David R. Craig in the primary.