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Larry Hogan, Republican candidate for Maryland governor.
Larry Hogan, Republican candidate for Maryland governor. (Cassidy Johnson / Baltimore Sun)

Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan criticized the O'Malley administration Monday over its decision to delay a lawsuit against the contractor it has blamed for the failed launch of the state's health exchange web site.

Hogan, locked in a battle with Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown with two weeks to go before Election Day, accused the administration of putting politics ahead of the taxpayers by delaying court action against Noridian Healthcare Solutions.

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The state fired Noridian in April for poor performance and vowed to recover $55 million it spent on the web site, which crashed on its first day of operation last October. Maryland decided early this year to scrap the web site and develop a new one based on software used on the more successful Connecticut site.

The administration decided recently to delay any action on its claim while it is gearing up for a new round of open enrollment for health insurance beginning next month. Such a postponement would also mean legal action would wait until after the Nov. 4 election, in which Brown holds a modest lead over Hogan.

In a news release, Hogan linked the decision to the election.

"With Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown's poll numbers collapsing, it is no surprise that state officials would pull such a stunt," Hogan said. "We have an election on Nov. 4, but they will do anything to keep Anthony Brown's failed leadership of the health exchange, which cost taxpayers $288 million, out of the headlines in the days leading up to the election. For once, state officials should put the taxpayer ahead of party politics."

Hogan said that Brown, who led the state's efforts to implement the federal Affordable Care Act, should demand that the state move ahead with legal action.

A Brown campaign spokesman could not be reached immediately to comment.

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