Doug Gansler: I'm asked 'pretty much every day' to run against Larry Hogan

Erin Cox
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Could Doug Gansler run for governor again? He hasn't said no.

Former attorney general Douglas F. Gansler said Friday he's asked "pretty much every day" if he would consider running against popular Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in 2018.

"There's a lot of discussion regarding the popularity of the governor, and
the Democrats are sort of looking around for the most viable candidate to
beat the governor," Gansler, a Democrat, said in an interview about his plans.

He said the requests to run come regularly, "particularly in Baltimore City ... when perfect strangers come up to me on the street. Part of that is I'm known because I ran for office statewide three times."

Gansler said he hasn't ruled out another run for public office, but that he's not currently organizing a campaign.

"I'm comfortable where I am," said Gansler. "When I'm 85-years-old and sitting on my rocking chair, I'll feel like I'd accomplished a lot in my 22-years of public service."

Gansler lost a Democratic primary bid for governor in 2014 in a costly and hard-fought campaign marred by his appearance at an underage drinking party. Gansler has largely blamed the media for concocting that and other scandals

"The nicest thing about not being in public office is not having to pick up the paper and see what reporters make up about you," he said.  He said he's attending next week's Democratic National Convention as a private citizen who stayed active in politics, not as a potential candidate.

"I'm not running to every fish fry and every clam bake," Gansler said. "I can't predict the future. Who knows, politics is funny."

Gansler served eight years as attorney general and 14 as Montgomery County state's attorney. Gansler rose to prominence as a state's attorney in part by his decision to prosecute the beltway snipers and his willingness to publicly criticize a judge. As attorney general, he was the first statewide official to endorse same-sex marriage and wrote an opinion that the state had to recongnize unions peformed elsewhere.

In 2014, he lost to then-Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown in the Democratic primary for governor. 

Brown went on to lose heavily Democratic Maryland to Hogan, and is currently heavily favored to win a congressional seat in Prince George's County.

Since Gansler left office in early 2015 he has worked in private practice, but has taken on clients in the political world -- defending Liberty Tax after Comptroller Peter Franchot, a fellow Democrat, shut down several locations and leading an independent inquiry into the distribution of pornographic and racist emails by scores of public officials in Pennsylvania.

Gansler has continued operating a lacrosse league for underprivileged kids in Baltimore, and travels to the city every Saturday to visit with 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds he said had "the misfortune" of being born poor and African-American in the city.

"Monday morning, they're going to go to a school, and there's almost no chance that they're going to learn how to read, and nobody is really addressing that," Gansler said. "That's the sort of thing that could pull me back into public office."

No Democrats have announced bids to run against Hogan, whose job approval ratings in Maryland are above 60 percent.

Several prominent Democrats -- among them Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker -- are widely considered to be exploring bids.

Chuck Conner, executive director of the Maryland Democratic Party, said that his party is focused on the November election and "that's the extent of our forward thinking right now."

"I've seen former attorney general at a lot of events," Conner said. "People have been happy to see him there, but right now we're focused on November."

ecox@baltsun.com

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