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Hogan, Brown crisscross state in final election push

MD governor's race enters homestretch as candidates campaign in final weekend.

The two men locked in the unexpectedly close race for governor spent the campaign's final weekend barnstorming the Baltimore-Washington region, trying to coax voters to show up on Election Day.

Democrat Anthony G. Brown and Republican Larry Hogan visited churches and shopping malls, rallied supporters and deployed high-profile surrogates to inspire Maryland's unengaged electorate. Each toured the state in an RV emblazoned with campaign logos.

"You know, this is starting to feel like a victory party," Hogan told several hundred people at a get-out-the-vote rally headlined by N.J. Gov. Chris Christie.

When he started his campaign as a Republican in this Democratic-dominated state, "some people laughed at me," Hogan said. "They're not laughing anymore."

Democrats, meanwhile, have built a multimillion dollar get-out-the vote effort to get their larger base to the polls. As Brown breezed through campaign stops in Prince George's County with an entourage that numbered over 50, he pulled aside a campaign worker who he said had personally knocked on thousands of doors.

"That's commitment and dedication," Brown told him. "That's how we're going to win this election, at the doors and on the phones. We know where the voters are. It's about getting them out and to the polls."

Brown holds a modest lead over Hogan in most polls, even though Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2 to 1 in Maryland. The Cook Political Report on Friday dubbed Maryland's governor's race "a toss up."

Political experts and both candidates see turning out supporters as key to victory on Tuesday.

"It's our turn, and it's our time," Christie told cheering Hogan supporters at a ballroom adjacent to a Baltimore bingo hall Sunday night. "We cannot waste a minute over the next 48 hours. … We cannot believe that just because we've inched past him that he can't come back and inch past us."

Hogan has ridden a wave of voter discontent over taxes in Maryland and closed the gap by gaining support of older voters, independents and some white conservative Democrats — voting blocs key to a statewide Republican win. Maryland has elected just one Republican governor — Robert L. Ehrlich — since the 1960s.

On the campaign trail, Hogan has not strayed from his economic message that the O'Malley-Brown administration has overtaxed Marylanders.

Brown, meanwhile, has been criticized by some as failing to spell out a clear vision for what he would offer Marylanders. While he has pitched expanded pre-Kindergarten programs, his television ads have focused on criticizing Hogan's past positions on social issues.

The closer-than-expected race has drawn a parade of national political figures to Maryland.

Christie, the chair of the Republican Governors Association, has visited the state four times on Hogan's behalf. The organization put $800,000 into ads for Hogan, and Christie said he'd consider Hogan's win as the biggest upset in the country.

First Lady Michelle Obama will headline a get-out-the-vote rally for Brown in Baltimore Monday night, the latest in a string of visits from Democratic superstars that include President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton.

The Democratic Governors Association has spent more than $1.25 million in Maryland for Brown, according to people familiar with the purchases.

Each campaign also spent about $2.7 million on television since the primary, federal filings show.

And both camps plan to continue an aggressive voter contact program until the polls close Tuesday night.

Brown and running mate Ken Ulman, the Howard County executive, crisscrossed the state over the weekend at a combined two dozen scheduled campaign stops.

"Ken Ulman and I are going to get up every day fighting for working families and middle class values," Brown said Sunday. "That's what Marylanders want and that's what Marylanders deserve."

In Hyattsville, Brown arrived at the bustling Busboys and Poets with House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer to pose for pictures and shake hands with potential voters over plates filled with sausage links, scrambled eggs and fruit salad.

Hoyer said he was confident Brown will on win Tuesday, provided Democrats go to the polls, because "Anthony is for what the voters want."

"Turnout is a concern," Hoyer said. "The Republicans want to keep the vote down, because if the vote is up, we win."

Over the weekend, the camps continued to lob accusations over gun-control.

The National Rifle Association launched robocalls Saturday night to draw attention to Brown's support of Maryland's 2013 gun-control law, which banned the sale of military-style assault rifles, among several other provisions.

The robocalls said Brown "helped to enact one of the largest gun bans in the history of Maryland. … This race could be decided by just a handful of votes, so your vote could make the difference."

The NRA has endorsed Hogan, but the GOP nominee has refused to release the questionnaire he filled out to gain that endorsement. Hogan has repeatedly said that as governor he would not try to overturn Maryland's gun control law.

Gov. Martin O'Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake held a news conference at the Washington Monument in Baltimore Sunday to blast Hogan for the NRA affiliation.

Brown, meanwhile, met voters in his home jurisdiction of Prince George's County, then rallied volunteers both there and in vote-rich Montgomery County. Brown needs to handily win both areas to take the state. Saturday, he spent the day in the battleground of Baltimore County, home to conservative Democrats who are willing to vote for a Republican.

One of them is self-employed, 35-year-old Will Brown, who said he's twice voted for O'Malley but doesn't think Brown is up to the job.

"I'm a Democrat who is going to consider Hogan in the voting booth," said Will Brown, who attended Hogan's rally on Sunday.

Anthony Brown met a friendly crowd in Prince George's, including Deborah Reid, a 59-year-old property manager from Upper Marlboro. Reid quizzed Brown on his commitment to build better schools, telling him, "I want to see something from you."

Brown told her he wants to roll out universal pre-Kindergarten and move Prince George's County children out of "temporary learning shacks" and into modern classrooms. "I need your vote Tuesday," he told Reid.

"You got it," she said.

On Monday, Brown's team plans to make 350,000 phone calls and deploy 1,900 volunteers, said Brown campaign manager Justin Schall.

Hogan volunteers made 61,000 calls Saturday and were on pace to exceed that Sunday, Hogan spokeswoman Erin Montgomery said. The Hogan campaign plans to have phone-banking operations at each of their 12 field offices on Monday.

Republicans said their underdog position motivates them to work even harder. Joan Nowell, a nurse from Queen Anne's County, said she plans to spend two days making calls on Hogan's behalf.

"If it's possible to save Maryland, he can do it," Nowell said. "We could rest on our laurels now and lose the election."

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