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News Opinion Editorial

Questions for the candidates [Editorial]

With just three weeks to go until Maryland's gubernatorial primaries, the next few days will offer voters the last chance to see or hear each party's candidates on the same stage at the same time. Democrats will hold their third televised debate (and the second in which Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will participate) tomorrow and a radio debate the following morning. Republicans will hold their final debate (and their only encounter to be televised state-wide) on Friday. There remain key questions about all of the candidates in both fields, and we hope their opponents or the moderators will push them beyond what we've heard so far. Here's what we'd like to know about each of them:

Democrats

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown: Mr. Brown has already been the subject of intense criticism over the failed roll-out of Maryland's health insurance exchange website. But we still haven't gotten a truly satisfactory answer about what, exactly, his role was in managing the launch or in making decisions about how to fix things when they went awry. Was he a failed manager, or was the talk of him being the state's point man on health insurance reform political puffery that went horribly awry? More broadly, how would he be different from Gov. Martin O'Malley? He has stuck to the message that the state made tremendous progress under his boss but that more needs to be done, a line that suggests he would amount to something of a third O'Malley term. Is that what he means, or are there substantive policies on which he disagrees with Mr. O'Malley?

Attorney General Douglas Gansler: Mr. Gansler has had to dig himself out of a series of holes since before his campaign even launched — stories about a secretly recorded campaign meeting in which he said Mr. Brown was running on a racial appeal, allegations that he ordered his state trooper drivers to speed and run red lights, and a raucous teen party in Delaware he didn't break up. The question for him is not so much about any of those incidents but his reactions to them, which were often ill considered and served only to inflame the situation. Mr. Gansler may have the background to be governor, but does he have the temperament?

Del. Heather Mizeur: The other candidates need to wake up and take Ms. Mizeur seriously rather than politely ignoring her. She has clearly demonstrated that she has the depth of knowledge and the presence to be governor. It's time to start asking questions about her policies. She has advanced by far the boldest and most comprehensive agenda of any of the Democrats running. But what would be the actual effect of enacting everything she's proposing, from the legalization of marijuana to the enactment of a $16.70 living wage by 2022?

Republicans

Harford County Executive David Craig: Mr. Craig's campaign rests on his long experience in state and local government, but in spite of that, he's gotten harder to know during the campaign. As governor, would he be the moderate centrist who has capably run Harford County for the last nine years or the staunch conservative he's been in his quest for the Republican gubernatorial nomination? Is he the executive who introduced Harford County's stormwater management fee, or is he the candidate calling for the repeal of Harford's rain tax?

Del. Ron George. Mr. George has laid out a moderate set of positions compared to his rivals and even includes some new social services spending, such as expanded funding for the Developmental Disabilities Administration and the creation of Baltimore Children's Zones, modeled after the one in Harlem. Could he really accomplish that within the constraints of the tax cuts he's proposing? And how would his insistence that he's interested in non-partisan solutions hold up in a partisan political environment?

Businessman Larry Hogan. Mr. Hogan has capitalized on the brand he built up through his Change Maryland organization to position himself as a business-friendly candidate who will work to cut taxes and foster economic development. But he has offered relatively few specifics on other issues. Where does he stand on the environment, education, health care, criminal justice, housing policy and so on?

Businessman Charles Lollar. Mr. Lollar's military and business backgrounds give him a great deal of experience in leadership and problem solving, but his knowledge of how government works is mainly theoretical. Does he have the necessary depth of knowledge about the issues he would face as governor, and does he have an understanding of how to get his agenda through the General Assembly?

To respond to this editorial, send an email to talkback@baltimoresun.com. Please include your name and contact information.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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