The state Democratic Party’s annual gala was no place for campaign speeches on Wednesday night.
That might seem odd to casual observers. After all, a big primary election is a month away, and the vast ballroom at Martin’s Camelot in Prince George’s County was filled with top elected officials, candidates and campaign donors.
But the gala – a large fundraising event – was a time to talk about party unity and the need for voter turnout efforts in the primary and general elections. It was about tiptoeing around any infighting that primary elections can cause.
A stranger to Maryland politics would hardly have known who was running for governor, and which elected officials in the room had made endorsements in the race.
The party’s candidates for governor – Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur – were only briefly recognized. Brown and Gansler were summoned to speak because of their official state positions, and there was no public talk of their campaigns.
“We need to come together after the primary,” Gansler told the crowd, echoing a popular theme.
Brown has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin — who spoke Wednesday night — among other state party leaders.
“The Democrats couldn’t have had a better eight years (under two-term Gov. Martin O’Malley),” said State House Speaker Michael E. Busch.
Democrats have expressed concern about turnout this year. "Republicans win when Democrats stay home," state Democratic Party chair Yvette Lewis said.
O’Malley, completing his final term this year, was honored with a video presentation.
Governor Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire was the headliner. U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger joked that her presence would allow her to “hear about all the good things” O’Malley has accomplished.
New Hampshire is a key early state in the presidential nominating process, and O’Malley has said he will consider seeking the nomination.