Doug Gansler 2014

Doug Gansler 2014 (October 30, 2013)

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler called on his Democratic rivals Tuesday to pledge not to allow third-party spending in the race for governor.

"We're trying to keep the fundraising contribution lines clean and limit the outside groups buying advertising," Gansler's campaign spokesman Bob Wheelock said. "We think it'll make a cleaner campaign." 

Gansler's call to restrict outside political action committees and special interest groups from spending on the 2014 primary race comes as Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown on Tuesday racked up another labor endorsement, this time from the AFSCME union representing state workers. 

Brown has dominated the labor endorsements game so far, gathering support from a chapter of the SEIU, the state's teachers union and the AFL-CIO, groups that traditionally aid the candidate they back.

Gansler's campaign spokesman said Brown's newest endorsement coincidentally arrived on the same day the attorney general invited his rivals to promise not to let other groups buy advertisements on their behalf.

Brown's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did the campaign of Del. Heather Mizeur of Montgomery County, who is also running for governor.  Mizeur has been endorsed by the Women's Campaign Fund, which has a political action committee, and the Blue American political action group.

The proposed "candidates pledge" is modeled after a similar pledge made in the 2012 Massachusettes race for U.S. Senate, where candidates promised to donate campaign funds to a charity if any third-party event paid for a political ad that benefited them.

Gansler proposed the a similar pledge: "We the undersigned agree that if an independent or third party group spends any money on broadcast TV, cable TV, radio, online, or direct mail advertisements supporting a candidate, that candidate, by signing this pledge, agrees to pay 50 percent of the cost of airing that advertisement to a charity of the other candidates' mutually agreed upon choice."

In a statement, Gansler said: “It is easy to talk about reform, the test is – are you willing to do something to keep outside money out of Maryland. The Candidates Pledge is a chance to do just that.  It is a chance not to talk, but to act.”

In Massachusetts, the government transparency group Common Cause found that negative advertising declined, as did total outside spending, according a report issued in April.