The campaigns of Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic challenger Ben Jealous traded accusations Friday after a scuffle between a Jealous security aide and videographer for the governor.
Hogan’s campaign said the Jealous aide assaulted its video tracker as Jealous headed into a gubernatorial campaign forum with the Maryland Municipal League in Annapolis. The Jealous campaign said its private security aide acted to protect the candidate, blocking the tracker “aggressively rushing up to Ben.”
Doug Mayer, a Hogan spokesman, said he witnessed the incident. He characterized the contact as the Jealous aide slamming the tracker into a concrete pillar. He said the tracker was unhurt but “shaken up.” Mayer said the 23-year-old man has not decided whether to pursue legal action.
“Ben Jealous owes an apology to this harmless, young staffer who was doing nothing more than his job,” a Hogan campaign statement said. “There is no place for intimidation tactics on the campaign trail or anywhere.”
Jealous spokesman Steven Hershkowitz said that if anyone should apologize, it’s Hogan “for trying to distract people from the real issues.”
“This was not an assault or anything like it,” Hershkowitz said.
Both campaigns declined to name the men involved or make them available for interviews.
One video of the incident distributed by the Hogan campaign shows the Jealous aide holding the tracker briefly as the young man keeps his camera out of reach. The videographer then spins out of the security aide’s grasp and resumes taking video of Jealous. The Hogan campaign also released the tracker’s video, which shows his camera recording throughout, although the lens is aimed at the ground at one point until the videographer trains it again on Jealous.
In Maryland, the state provides the governor with a security detail. Challengers don’t have state protection.
Campaigns hire trackers to make videos of opposing candidates in the hope of catching a embarrassing remark, reaction or a comment that conflicts with a previously stated position. The Hogan aide Friday questioned Jealous several times, but the candidate didn’t respond.
A spokeswoman for the Annapolis police said the department had received no reports of an assault in the vicinity of the hotel at that time.