I have no idea whether Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan can beat the odds and overcome the natural political advantages of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the Democratic candidate for the same office. Whatever the voters decide in November, Hogan cannot complain about the press coverage he and Brown have received in this contest.
The Washington Post front page of the Metro section on Monday, Sept. 22 probably had some fists bumps going in the Hogan campaign office. The headline was "Light shines on vote line." It seems that a group of activists organized folks to walk, run, bike and boat the length of the meandering 3rd Congressional District that snakes its way through central Maryland in order express their collective disgust with the gerrymandered congressional district lines in Maryland.
A federal judge described the 3rd Congressional District as being "reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state." The article included a map of all the districts and rated them as to the degree each is the most gerrymandered.
We've felt the impact of this map in Carroll County, with Taneytown being included in the same district as Ocean City and Crisfield. Eldersburg is now in the same district as Silver Spring and Takoma Park.
The Post article quotes Barbara C. Ditzler of the League of Woman voters, who questioned the logical basis of the 3rd District's lines and how anyone could "possibly provide constituent services" under this map.
The same report included comments from both Hogan and Brown. The GOP candidate prefers reforming the district drawing process by using non-partisan mechanisms to craft future lines.
According to the article, Brown said "redistricting was not something that was part of my portfolio as Lt. Governor."
Implementing Maryland's version of health care under the Affordable Care Act was considered one of Brown's responsibilities the last few years. WBAL TV's ace investigative reporter Jayne Miller attempted to interview Brown on camera on Dec. 5, 2013, questioning who was accountable for problems associated with the rollout of the ACA.
The video of this brief interview is readily available on the Internet. I would characterize Brown's response to Miller as dismissive to say the least. My guess is the Hogan campaign would dearly love undecided voters to be exposed to this content directly.
Hogan held a press conference Sept. 18 in which he blasted the Brown campaign for television ads that Hogan described as containing dishonest content. He went so far as to accuse Brown of being a liar.
Both broadcast and print media carried extensive coverage of the Hogan conference and attempted to fact check the charges and counter charges between the two campaigns.
Sam Wallace, writing in the on-line version of the University of Maryland campus paper diamondbackonline, addressed this topic of honesty in the Brown campaign earlier this week in a guest column. Wallace noted that Brown's campaign website brags that his work as co-chair of the Health Care Reform Coordinating Council positioned our state as a national leader in implementing the ACA.
Wallace considered such rhetoric to be not grounded factually. He noted that "many sources have pointed out [that] Brown's handling of the health care roll out in this state was awful." The column noted that Brown's critics in this area have included Democratic Representatives like Chris Van Hollen of District 8 and John Delaney of District 6.
The column concludes that our times are in "desperate need of upright and authentic leaders." In that context, Wallace concludes Brown's campaign reveals that he is not such a leader.
I have noticed some GOP candidates vent about media coverage from time to time. It would surprise me to see Hogan in that mode any time soon.
Michael Zimmer writes from Eldersburg. His column appears on Fridays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.