A coalition of Baltimore ministers endorsed Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler for governor Thursday, saying he was an experienced leader with a strong track record on civil rights issues.
At a news conference at Friendship Baptist Church, Rev. Alvin J. Gwynn Sr., president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Baltimore, said Gansler had "expertise and longevity" in public service.
The alliance represents about 50 churches in Baltimore City and County and more than 20,000 church-goers, Gwynn said.
"He understands the problems that are confronting the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore," Gwynn said. "He's extremely sensitive to the minority members of the state of Maryland and the problems they are having. Having looked into his record, we decided that he is our man."
Gansler, a Democrat, is running against Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Del. Heather Mizeur in the primary.
Gansler told the ministers' group he planned increased funding for the state's historically black colleges and wanted to build up Baltimore's neighborhoods.
"The Inner Harbor is doing great," he said. "The Inner Harbor doesn't need a new governor."
He said he believed the endorsement was important. The ministers' group first engaged in electoral politics in the 1970s.
"The alliance launched Kurt Schmoke's campaign and many other campaigns," Gansler said. "They look in depth at who's done more for the city and the community."
The ministers' group also endorsed Del. Jon Cardin for attorney general and Marilyn Mosby for Baltimore City State's Attorney.
"She is passionate, concerned, hands-on, in-the-street," Gwynn said of Mosby, who is challenging State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein. "She's not fine with the status quo."
Mosby said she was "honored."
"When I started this journey, I never would have imagined that I would receive a public endorsement from the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, an organization with the legacy of fighting on the forefront of civil rights for decades," she said.
Others endorsed by the ministers' group were: U.S. Congressman Elijah Cummings; Circuit Court Clerk Frank Conaway; State Senators Joan Carter Conway, Catherine Pugh and Nathaniel J. McFadden; and State Delegates Curt Anderson, Maggie McIntosh, Mary Washington, Adrienne A. Jones, Keith E. Haynes, and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam.
The ministers also endorsed Jay Jalisi, Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, Shirley Hettleman and Aaron J. Barnett for state delegate, and Belinda Conaway for Baltimore's Register of Wills.
In response, Brown's campaign released a statement from two influential Baltimore-area pastors.
"Over the past seven years, we've welcomed Lt. Governor Brown into church nearly every Sunday as he's visited congregations across Maryland more than 120 times," says the statement from Bishop Frank M. Reid and Dr. Donte L. Hickman. "That's powerful evidence about Anthony's commitment to the faith community, and because of his strong character and values, many ministers throughout our State are firmly behind him."
Reid is the pastor of Bethel A.M.E. Church with 11,000 members; Hickman is the pastor of Southern Baptist Church with 3,000 members, the campaign said.
Mizeur's campaign declined comment.