Early childhood education has become the hot topic in Maryland's governor's race. Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, a Democrat, made his first policy proposal of the campaign today with a call for universal pre-k for 4-year-olds. His announcement came a week after fellow Democrat Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler made his own pitch for expanding pre-k instruction as a means to reduce the state's achievement gap among students later in their academic careers. Del. Heather Mizeur, another Democrat, is working on her own proposal. Among the Republicans, Del. Ron George and businessman Charles Lollar have both expressed interest in making pre-k more available to low income families. Interestingly, Republican Harford County Executive David Craig, a former educator, is the only major candidate not to make an expansion of early childhood education part of his platform.