Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton came to Maryland on Thursday to praise the record of the O'Malley administration and urge young voters to turn out for Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.
At a rally on the University of Maryland in College Park, Clinton said that as governor, Brown "would be on your side," fighting to promote gender equality, gun-control laws and other core Democratic values.
She urged college students to drag their roommates to the polls.
"They may be checking the box next to Anthony Brown, but they're really voting for themselves," Clinton said. "I really think you will be proud of the job Anthony Brown will do. ... He can't do anything if you can't turn out for him."
Clinton is the latest in a string of high-profile Democrats hoping to buoy Brown in his tight race against Republican Larry Hogan in Tuesday's election.
Hogan, meanwhile, campaigned along Harford Road in Baltimore County on Thursday afternoon, seeking votes in the battleground jurisdiction and popping into businesses. He stressed his message that only pocketbook issues matter in this election.
"We're going to try to roll back as many of those 40 tax increases as we can," Hogan told Tim Bonner, a towing company owner who attended a Hogan event in Parkville. Small businesses, Hogan said, have been "really getting squeezed over the last eight years."
The contest for governor is unexpectedly close for a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. Brown leads in most polls by single digits.
During Maryland's eight-day early voting period — which ended Thursday — Democrats cast by far the most votes. More than 308,300 early ballots were cast, state elections officials said Thursday night. Their figures show about 62 percent were by Democrats, about 28 percent by Republicans, and the rest by independent and third-party voters.
In College Park, Clinton encouraged the mostly college-age crowd of several hundred people in Ritchie Coliseum to support Brown if they want to continue an agenda that legalized gay marriage and allows in-state tuition for some immigrants who are in the country without legal documentation.
Hecklers, shouting about immigration policy and scattered about the crowd, intermittently disrupted Clinton's remarks and were escorted out.
Brown told the crowd he would keep college tuition low and promised that "we are committed to respecting and protecting a women's right to choose."
House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen praised Brown and emphasized that he could not win unless voters showed up.
Hoyer told the crowd to take out their cellphones and text all their friends immediately, reminding them to vote.
Gov. Martin O'Malley highlighted some of the central accomplishments of his administration and praised Brown for his dedication in completing them.
"He never flinched, he never shied away from a fight," O'Malley said. "He waded into it."
O'Malley, who is weighing a presidential bid for 2016, also praised Clinton, who could end up his rival for the Democratic nomination.
"She has served our country very well," O'Malley said. The pair never shared the stage.
While the rally was held for Brown, many in the crowd said they came for a chance to see a woman who could become the country's first female president.
"It's a really rare opportunity," said Asia Lamar, a 21-year-old Spanish education major from Waldorf. "I want to see if Hillary plans to run, to get any indication."
Clinton did not expressly say anything about a presidential campaign, but she spoke in lofty terms about the future of the country.
She mentioned her granddaughter, Charlotte, and said she wondered what the world would look like in 20 years when Charlotte started her adult life.
"Will we still have the American dream?"
Hogan spent the afternoon campaigning with a walk through the business district in Parkville.
Accompanied by an entourage including running mate Boyd Rutherford and former Democratic Baltimore County Councilman Joe Bartenfelder, Hogan popped into about a dozen of the mostly family-owned businesses.
The Republican received almost unanimously positive receptions from both Republicans and Democrats as he dropped in to chat. A handful of drivers who were passing by stopped when they saw his entourage and jumped out to greet the candidate.
Greg Marsh, owner of Marsh Insurance and Financial, was one of them.
"I have to shake your hand," Marsh told Hogan. The registered Republican went on to tell the candidate that taxes were crushing his business.
"We understand; that's why we're running," Hogan said.
Along the way, Hogan told business owners he was poised to pull off "the biggest upset in the country."
N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, chair of the Republican Governors Association, is scheduled to make his fourth stop in Maryland on Hogan's behalf on Sunday. The association has spent nearly $800,000 on television ads backing Hogan, an organization spokesman said.