Opinion: Columnists

Maryland's race-baiters are at it again

|
Maryland,Gregory Kane,Columnists,2014 Elections,Analysis

Ah, those race-baiting Maryland Democrats!

According to news reports, it was Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler who started the latest round of race baiting. And his target was another Democrat, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown.

When Maryland Democrats race-bait, they don't mess around. Even other Democrats aren't safe.

Several years ago, the late Del. Howard "Pete" Rawlings of Baltimore, an African American and a Democrat, looked to give a boost to the state senate campaign of Lisa Gladden, also African American and a Democrat.

Gladden's opponent was white and Jewish, which prompted a bit of race-baiting on Rawlings' part. He urged black voters to cast their ballots for the candidate that "looks like we do and smells like we do."

Gansler's comments about Brown didn't dredge those depths, but they still caused controversy. Gansler is white and Jewish.

Brown is biracial, the son of a black father and a white mother. Brown is also the second black lieutenant governor in the state's history. He has announced that he will run for governor next year.

Gansler has yet to announce he's a candidate for governor, although he is expected to run.

Here's how the current race-baiting flap started, according to a story in Aug. 13, 2013 edition of The Baltimore Sun.

"Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler came under fire Tuesday for comments that his top rival in the Democratic primary for governor is running on little besides his African American heritage."

A brief pause for a bit of full disclosure. In 2002, when Michael Steele was running for lieutenant governor on Robert Ehrlich's ticket, a certain newspaper editorialized that Steele brought nothing to the Republican cause other than the color of his skin.

That paper was none other than the Baltimore Sun.

But back to the story, which was written by reporters Erin Cox and Michael Dresser:

"Gansler told a group of potential volunteers that Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown's campaign strategy amounted to 'Vote for me. I want to be the first African American governor of Maryland,' according to a transcript of the secretly taped meeting."

A transcript from a secretly taped meeting? So the campaign's barely under way and already we have race baiting and dirty tricks?

Maryland Democrats just might outdo themselves in 2014.

More from The Baltimore Sun story:

"The attorney general went on to criticize Brown's record, calling it a 'little thin' and accusing him of 'trying to get coronated' by the party establishment.

"The reaction from the Brown camp was predictable.

"In a statement, Brown said he was 'disappointed that Doug Gansler has decided to ignore my record and instead focus on race in this election.' "

Bold and big talk coming from a guy whose boss, Gov. Martin O'Malley, nakedly race-baited in the 2010 election.

Justin Schall is Brown's campaign manager. His comments were a bit more, oh, shall we say, caustic.

"Doug Gansler is out of control before this campaign started," Schall said. "He got caught red-handed attacking other Democrats. Gansler's the only one talking about race."

Anybody that thought Gansler or his campaign would back down or apologize simply doesn't know Maryland Democrats.

Doug Thornell is a strategist with what could soon be the Gansler campaign. Here's his response to Schall's comments:

"Spare us the phony outrage. The Brown campaign has spent more time stirring up controversy and division today than they have spent the entire campaign addressing important issues like the prison crisis, on which he has been all but silent."

There is indeed a prison crisis in Maryland. In a normal American state -- which is to say, one with a bona fide two-party system -- that crisis might spell doom for an incumbent governor or lieutenant governor, and for their party.

But this is Maryland, where the two-party system died years ago. Come November of 2014, Maryland voters will have a choice of sending a race baiter to the governor's mansion.

Or sending a man from an administration that utterly failed during the prison crisis.

GREGORY KANE, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a Pulitzer Prize-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

View article comments Leave a comment