As young voters in our state, we cannot help but express our disgust with the gubernatorial election thus far. Perhaps it is youthful idealism or ignorance, but we had looked forward to competitive, meaningful and well-debated primary and general elections. To our disappointment, the race for governor on both sides of the aisle has been stagnant and largely unproductive for the voters of Maryland.
Though we might be members of two different political parties, we both want to choose from a slate of dedicated, well-qualified candidates. We want a debate of the issues that matter to us and we would like to listen to candidates who present their vision and plans for the state, bolstered with facts and experience, not personal attacks and catchphrases. Candidates should look to engage large swathes of Maryland's population — from Baltimore to Western Maryland and Montgomery County to the Eastern Shore — to understand the challenges that we Marylanders face.
The Democratic primary, which is usually more important than the general election in Maryland, has been subpar thus far. This seems primarily due to the dominance of one candidate — Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown — over opponents Attorney General Doug Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur. We see however, that this dominance largely comes from the wide range of endorsements from current government officers and out-of-state figures, which does not necessarily guarantee us the best candidate. While having one strong candidate may help Democrats win easily in the general election, a strong, competitive primary would help voters determine the right person for the job.
This primary campaign would benefit from increased debate on substantive issues, especially the economy, budget and environment. Much time has been wasted discussing the merits of Mr. Gansler's inaction at a party with underage drinking. There are far more pressing matters that the state of Maryland faces. Messrs. Gansler and Brown have not seemed to differentiate themselves besides their plans for the corporate tax and a plethora of personal and leadership issues. While Mr. Brown's botched roll-out of Maryland's health care exchange deserves attention, the campaigns need to engage in policy debate rather than personal debate. Unfortunately, the Brown and Gansler campaigns seem to almost disregard the Mizeur campaign, as does a large segment of the population. She's not as well known as her opponents — her first television advertisement just recently debuted — which could be a concern in the general election.
Democrats will likely be reassured to note that the eventual winner of the primary will probably be strong enough to win the general election come November, which allows voters to focus on selecting the best candidate.
For the Republicans, the primary campaign has been lackluster at best. Realizing the uphill battle facing the eventual winner, the four Republicans have dedicated their campaigns to the economy and budget, important topics for many of us. One of the most frustrating aspects of the primary, however, is the general lack of detail in the plans and stances of candidates. While we realize the candidates can't and shouldn't comment with all of their beliefs or exact plan to create jobs, it is fair to expect to find some specific stances in websites, speeches or debates. While Charles Lollar seems to have detailed stances on a wide variety of topics, Larry Hogan has avoided talking about anything but taxes, regulations and wasteful spending, and Harford County Executive David Craig especially has not outlined how he could get his proposals through the State House.
The other major frustrations with the primary are petty bickering and lack of viability for some of the candidates. Del. Ron George and Mr. Craig asked for an investigation of the Hogan campaign's finances, a complaint filed right after only Mr. Hogan qualified for public campaign financing and not his opponents. And while Mr. Hogan remains in position to run a viable campaign through November, the other candidates have not shown strong campaigning and fundraising skills; more importantly, they have not stressed how they might work with a sure Democratic majority in the State House. Perhaps the winning candidate will explain how he might work with Democrats, but primary voters need to know who has the best chance to win in November.
While we'll be at the polls on June 24th and November 4th, we want to see more competitive campaigns that show concern for the needs of all of Maryland. We might be young, ignorant college students, but it seems pretty reasonable to us that candidates work hard for our votes.
Matt and Kevin Dragonette are graduates of Calvert Hall and a rising junior and rising freshman, respectively at the University of Maryland, College Park. They may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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