Less than a week into her role as a running mate for Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler's campaign for governor, Democrat Del. Jolene Ivey on Thursday also assumed the role of attacker.
Ivey criticized the ticket's chief political opponent Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown over remarks made to The Baltimore Sun yesterday, when Brown said he did not anticipate the state's new health care exchange would have problems, much less that they would be widespread.
The tact for Ivey, who formally joined the race Monday, signals that success or failure of the new health insurance marketplace is likely to be a recurring issue in the Democratic primary campaign to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley.
It also portends that both Gansler and Ivey will go after Brown in advance of the June 2014 primary.
"We said this is very much a partnership," Gansler campaign spokesman Bob Wheelock said. "These are strong people who both have strong ideas."
With the marketplace's bumpy rollout, the Gansler campaign seized on Brown's first public remarks about the health exchange's troubles. Ivey criticized the lieutenant governor for sending out campaign materials about Ivey's policy differences with Gansler at a time when Brown's major policy initiative was foundering.
"He had time to send out a press release attacking my record fighting for the families of Maryland, but he doesn't have time to watch out for so many uninsured Marylanders – time for politics, but not for people," Ivey said in a statement.
Brown led Maryland's effort to implement the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But like many exchanges across the country, Maryland's online marketplace was beset by design and technical troubles that made it difficult or impossible for buyers to browse or sign up for coverage.
Brown said Wednesday he did not want to dwell on the how the problems arose but instead focus on fixing them in time for state residents to sign up for health care.
His campaign responded Thursday that "it's a shame that the Gansler campaign is trying to score cheap political points on such an important issue. The Lt. Governor remains committed to making quality affordable healthcare available to everyone in Maryland," Brown's campaign manager Justin Schall said in an e-mail.
Thursday's attack is the first unitiated salvo from Ivey, a two-term state lawmaker who, like Brown, is from Prince George's County.
Ivey has been both critical of Brown and defensive of her running mate in media appearances earlier this week when asked about Gansler the revelations he has been a pushy, backseat drivers to the troopers on his security detail.
In contrast, Brown's running mate Howard County Executive Ken Ulman has not engaged on attacks against Gansler.
Ivey's comments come the same day the first independent poll of the primary race showed Brown enjoyed an early advantage over Gansler, securing nearly twice as much support among likely Democratic primary advantage.