A day after his campaign called for an apology, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said Wednesday that perhaps his gubernatorial opponent Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler owes one to the voters instead.
Gansler's secretly recorded comments about race touched off a conflict between the two Democrats, who are vying for the nomination to succeed term-limited Gov. Martin O'Malley in 2014.
"Marylanders want leaders who don't necessarily have the answers to all of the problems, but are willing to bring people together," Brown said at event in Salisbury. "This campaign ought to be focused on results and record, but perhaps more importantly, on a vision for what a better Maryland looks like."
Gansler was recorded telling a group of supporters that Brown's campaign was offering little beyond his racial heritage.
"I mean, right now his campaign slogan is, "Vote for me, I want to be the first African American governor of Maryland," Gansler said, according to a transcript of the July meeting published this week by The Washington Post.
Brown's campaign called Gansler "out of control" and said he should apologize. Gansler has refused to do so, saying he was illegally taped and his remarks illustrated that Brown has not spoken enough about tackling issues.
In his first interview since the transcript was published, Brown declined to say whether he thought he deserved a personal apology and said he is committed to telling voters his plan "to achieve results."
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Brown said a candidate's race should not have a place in the campaign, but that race is relevant when talking about creating opportunities for Maryland residents. Disparities in health and education break along racial and ethnic lines, Brown said, and those issues need to be addressed.
"Regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, background, people want the same things for themselves and their families," Brown said. "They really do."
Brown's comments ignited another salvo from the Gansler camp.
"This is a sad political attack by a politician who is not talking about issues and hasn't done one thing about the Baltimore prison scandal that occurred on his watch," Gansler strategist Doug Thornell said.