The police won’t pursue a missing persons report if it regards an adult who’s disappeared for less than two days. That’s because, in most cases, sex and/or alcohol explain the absence. Or, it could be a front-running gubernatorial candidate ducking the voters until Election Day.
Last week I moderated a candidate’s forum sponsored by a dozen Montgomery County Democratic clubs. All three gubernatorial candidates — Brown, Gansler and Mizeur — long ago agreed to the event. Then, the day before the forum, Brown canceled because, the email explained, “The Lt. Governor’s stepson will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Mary’s Catholic Church tomorrow evening at the same time as the forum. As staff, we missed this scheduling conflict.”
If you believe Brown’s B.S. excuse I’ve got some Lehman Brothers stock I’d like to sell you. Consider this: Brown’s camera tracker, the guy who shadows Doug Gansler with a video camera every day, was at the the forum. Are we supposed to believe that Brown’s campaign was efficient enough to schedule the tracker but not Brown? Is Brown’s scheduling team the same folks who designed Brown’s Obamacare web site?
No, it wan’t a staff snafu, it was Brown, once again, hiding from his opponents and from the voters. It’s a pattern that’s repeated itself throughout the governor’s race and his excuse is always a conflicting family event. Next Wednesday’s is the first televised governor’s debate. Will Brown show up? Might interfere with attending his nephew’s birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese.
Aside from the fact that he’s willing to lie about his cancellations, what does Brown’s “rose garden” strategy say about the man? He promotes himself as a military medal-winner and courageous leader but he’s afraid to debate Doug Gansler and Heather Mizeur? Or, worse, he’s afraid of himself — afraid he might go “off script” and feed into the “empty suit” tag some voters suspect?
Doesn’t matter, say his supporters, he’s playing it smart. According to the polls Brown holds a double-digit lead and is better financed than his rivals. And thanks to the geniuses in Congress and Annapolis, Maryland’s primary election day has moved from September to June 24th resulting in a “C-Span election” — the only people likely to vote are the junkies who watch C-Span.
Under that scenario all Brown needs is for his African-American vote, his union supporters and the O’Malley machine to show up. Just in case, he also benefits from Ike Leggett, a fellow African American, being locked into a contentious Montgomery County executive race further boosting black voter turnout, and from a supportive Washington Post reporter masquerading as an objective journalist.
Ironically, Brown and Leggett are being hounded by two white Dougs ... Gansler and Duncan, respectively. Gansler is dogging Brown with Maryland’s Obamacare website fiasco and Duncan is chasing Leggett with the Silver Spring Transit Center screw-up. But is anyone listening?
A recent St. Mary’s College poll says 54 percent of Maryland’s registered Democrats have “no preference” in a governor’s race less than three months away. So Brown is playing it cautious; don’t rock the boat, don’t come out of the foxhole until Election Day.
Funny, last year Doug Gansler got into hot water for saying, “(Anthony Brown) is a nice guy ... (but) ask them, name one thing that he’s done for anybody in the state of Maryland’ ... So, you’re saying, compare his record, which is a little thin, versus our record ... I mean, right now his campaign slogan is, ‘Vote for me, I want to be the first African-American governor of Maryland.’” The sanctimonious fallout from the usual quarters was fierce. You’d have thought Gansler was NBA Clippers owner, Don Sterling.
But now, nine months later, Gansler’s claim doesn’t look so off-base. Thanks largely to his overwhelming African-American support, Brown can cruise to victory by playing it safe and by doing absolutely nothing. Makes you wonder what kind of governor he’ll be.
Blair Lee is chairman of the board of Lee Development Group in Silver Spring and a regular commentator for WBAL radio. His past columns are available at www.gazette.net/blairlee. His email address is email@example.com.