Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan condemned a federal agency's decision Wednesday to cancel several trademarks of Washington's National Football League team on the basis that the nickname Redskins is offensive to native Americans.
Hogan said he does not consider the team name a racial slur.
Cmpaigning at a firefighters' parade in Ocean City, Hoagn issued a statement saying the decision on by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to revoke six team-held trademarks "should offend anyone concerned about constitutional limits on government power and free speech."
Hogan, a former Ehrlich administration official who has led recent polls of the GOP primary race that ends Tuesday, said the decision should be left to the team and its fans "without the politically-motivated interference of pandering state and federal politicians."
Hogan later released a statement Wednesday night saying he grew up in Landover, within walking distance of the site where the team now plays its games at FedEx Field.
"They've been part of my life for as long as I can remember, so I've never found the name offensive. No matter what one's view is, I think most people agree that it is a dangerous precedent to invite the government to determine whether a long standing brand name may or may not be offensive," he said.
Though Hogan lives in Anne Arundel County now, he has deep roots in Prince George's County, where his father was county executive.
The question of the Washington team's name has come up before in the governor's race.
All three Democrats in the race have said the team should jettison the name, though Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler came around to that view later than Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and Del. Heather R. Mizeur. At a forum in February, Gansler declined to take a definite position on the question, but by the first televised debate May 7 had come around to the point of view that the name is a slur and should change.