Though the governor's race has already featured attack ads, the state's top candidates focused more on their own platforms than their opponents' at a Prince George's County forum Monday night.
Attorney General Douglas Gansler defended his comments about Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's leadership experience that drew the ire of veteran groups backing Brown. Gansler said he had implied that Brown's time in the military didn't count as a real job.
"I didn't say a disparaging syllable about veterans," Gansler said. He added that, as governor, he would work on their behalf to bring the Maryland's Veterans Affairs office — "among the worst in the nation," he said — up to standards.
Gansler sought to cast himself as an anti-establishment candidate with a grassroots campaign of volunteers "knocking on thousands of doors" to generate support.
Brown said he wants to extend state contracts to more local, minority and women's businesses to make improvements to Maryland's infrastructure.
He said the two keys to controlling the influence of the state's new casinos are local governmental oversight and a limit on campaign contributions from members of the gaming industry.
Del. Heather Mizeur cited the decriminalization of marijuana she helped put into law and said she would push for full legalization as governor, using the tax money it generates to fund early childhood education programs.
In response to a question about her controversial support for end-of-life, assisted suicide for mentally competent seniors, Mizeur, a Montgomery County Democrat, said allowing them decide how to spend their final days would qualify as "compassionate care."
"It's what senior citizens are asking for across the state," she said.
Brown, Gansler and Mizeur are running for the Democratic nomination.
Republican candidates Charles Lollar and Del. Ron George spoke about making the state more business-friendly.
Asked whether his plan for the state amounted to Reagan-era, "Trickle-Down" economics, Lollar responded in part: "No one has ever been hired by a poor person."
GOP candidates David Craig and Larry Hogan did not attend.
The one-by-one, moderated Q&A hosted by the Prince George's County Women's Alliance gave the candidates a chance to explain how their ideas would affect the residents who turned out to hear them at the Bowie Center for the Performing Arts.
Mizeur said high foreclosure rates around the county and the state would be a priority for her administration. Brown and Gansler both said they'd push for more transit-oriented development around the county's Metro stops.