By Ken Rossignol
LEONARDTOWN — The race for Maryland’s Governorship kicks off in full bloom with a full house of cross-geographic and cross-racial candidates on both sides of the spectrum, thus far, as Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler arrives in the Mother County of Maryland to push for support in the hinterlands in his effort to win the Democratic nomination in next June’s primary.
Gansler announced his campaign kickoff on September 24, 2013 in Rockville and the next day was set to arrive for a breakfast kickoff sponsored by Leonardtown attorney and Dorsey Machine heir Phil Dorsey. Dorsey is grandson of Circuit Court Judge Philip H. Dorsey and son of longtime State Senator and States Attorney Walter B. Dorsey, as well as the son of the late Jeanne Dorsey Mandel, who had been the wife of Governor Marvin Mandel. Dorsey will likely gather hundreds of folks anxious to continue the participation of Southern Maryland in a political process overwhelming dominated by the big counties of Maryland and Baltimore City, to Gansler’s campaign swing.
Gansler is likely to pick a veteran of Baltimore City politics, Democrat City Comptroller Joan Pratt, as his running mate, balancing his background as the white Montgomery County prosecutor and setting the match to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown who is attempting to rise from the farm team of Governor Martin O’Malley and become the first black to hold the Governor’s mansion in Annapolis.
Ironically, Gansler’s announcement in Leonardtown is almost in sight of the State of Virginia which actually became the first state in the union to have a black elected to the office of governor, Doug Wilder. Ironically, Wilder, with the same first name as Gansler and certainly, in his early days in politics, was definitely ‘wilder’. Now, Gov. Wilder has become a voice of moderation in the Democratic Party, which has gone way over the edge in its decades-long plunge into fiscal and political extremes conjured up by the whacked-out minds of folks who must have learned all they know about government from LSD advocate Dr. Timothy Leary.
Black voters in Maryland turn out about thirty-four percent of the votes as the majority of the population in Baltimore City and Prince Georges County, which is the home of Brown, are black. Blacks have been stalwarts of the Democratic Party and were spurned by Maryland’s old-boy Democrats in 2006 when Kweisi Mfume wanted to become U. S. Senator only to see Steny Hoyer and others support Ben Cardin. Now, for many blacks, this is their day and Brown is the black to be the one to end the 379-year run of white males serving as Governor of Maryland.
Gansler’s announcement, the official one, for the race he has been running for the past year, was marked by the endorsement for his opponent by Maryland’s senior senator, Barbara Mikulski.
Mikulski, along with Congressman Steny Hoyer, have together served in Congress almost seventy years — longer than a third of the nations of the world have actually been nations. It is no wonder they don’t want to have to give up their health plan and have Obamacare the same as everyone else.
Brown, looking to balance his blackness, selected Howard County’s white county executive, Ken Ullman, to be his running mate.
But the Democrats aren’t the first to try to scramble for votes by abandoning the old style politics of “old white guys” running things in politics. Congressman Bob Ehrlich tapped Michael Steele as his running mate and the pair won in 2002, with Steele’s roots as a black Republican in heavily Democrat Prince Georges County aiding in the GOP upset over Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.
What does history reveal about the chances of Brown winning?
There have been no blacks as candidates for the top spot and Brown wasn’t the first black man to be Lieutenant Governor, though Democrats were pretty nasty towards Lt. Gov. Mike Steele and made constant references to him being an “uncle tom” during his term from 2003 to 2007.
Gansler recently made reference to Brown playing the race card to win the Democrat nomination, which brought down a crescendo of criticism upon him from the usual left-wing elements of the Democratic Party who believe that playing race is an exclusive game that only they can play and only they can write the rules.
Should Gansler select Comptroller Pratt to be his running mate, the addition of the well-thought-of black female who advocates fiscal restraint in a city run amok in corruption and bottomless pits of fiscal insanity; his own background as states attorney in Montgomery County and two terms as Attorney General should make for a hard-fought race.
The battle just might equal the intensity of the Governor’s race in 1966 which led a Republican to take advantage of the deep split in the Democratic ranks and elected Baltimore County Executive Ted Agnew as Governor.
History in Maryland also tells us that in the post-WWII era, no attorney general has gone on to become governor — and neither has a lieutenant governor. The only exception was Lt. Gov. Blair Lee, who, upon the conviction on racketeering charges of Gov. Marvin Mandel, became Acting Governor for all but the last three days of Mandel’s term, who was then returned to office following the overturning of his conviction by the United States Court of Appeals.