The second televised debate in the race for governor is Monday. Democrat Anthony G. Brown and Republican Larry Hogan have given a number of clues about what to expect. Here are five things to keep in mind while watching:
How many times does Hogan pound his bread-and-butter themes about a lackluster economy?
Some of Hogan's oft-used phrases about Maryland's financial health include "40 consecutive tax increases," "mass exodus of businesses and families" and "8,000 businesses killed." In a campaign strategy based on pocketbook issues, do not be surprised if Hogan tries to plant those ideas in the heads of late-deciders before they head for the polls.
How hard will Brown hit back on Hogan's claims?
In the first debate, Brown left Hogan's narrative about a lagging economy only lightly challenged, even though his campaign is heavily armed with ways to dispute Hogan's use of statistics. If Brown wants to plant doubts about the Republican's credibility, he could be relentless about mistakes Hogan made in compiling his list of waste, fraud and abuse that Hogan wants to cut.
What does Hogan do to win over independents and disaffected Democrats?
Those demographics are crucial to any Republican's victory in a state where Democrats outnumber them by more than 2 to 1. There's a number of strategies Hogan could deploy, including raising doubts about Brown's leadership ability and forcing him to defend Gov. Martin O'Malley at a time when the term-limited governor's approval ratings have been diminishing. For his part, Brown hasn't spent a lot of time invoking the name of his boss.
What, if anything, does Brown do to fire up his base?
As the Democrat in deep-blue Maryland, Brown holds a built-in advantage that could evaporate if his base in the Washington suburbs and younger voters do not show up in force on Election Day. Brown has been hitting gun control, prekindergarten and women's rights as base-pleasing themes. Will we see more of the same in Monday's debate — the only one held in the Washington area? Will he take Hogan to task for saying he would not build the Purple Line rail project? How will Brown attack Hogan on school construction funding?
Be surprised if you do not hear about Maryland's health exchange.
Brown's role in the flubbed online insurance marketplace was hammered in the Democratic primary, but the issue did not come up in his debate with Hogan last week. Expect the Republican to make sure it comes up this time.
To see Monday's debate live at 10 a.m., Baltimore-area viewers can go online to news8.net and wjla.com. Viewers in the Washington region can see it aired live on NewsChannel 8. It will be broadcast in the Baltimore market on WUTB, Channel 24, at 8 p.m. Monday. Maryland Public Television plans to broadcast it statewide at 7 p.m. Tuesday.