POLITICS: Campaigns

Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler to address teen beach party appearance

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Politics,Maryland,Associated Press,Campaigns

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Democratic Attorney General Doug Gansler plans Thursday to discuss his brief appearance at a teenage party at a beach house, the latest distraction for his campaign after reports surfaced about how he told state troopers escorting him to events to drive, his spokesman said.

The Baltimore Sun obtained a photo it published Thursday that shows Gansler at the party in South Bethany, Del. In an interview with the Sun, Gansler said he doesn't remember whether he saw drinking when he came to the house to talk with his teenage son. But he said if he had, it wasn't his responsibility to intervene. The photo shows Gansler in a room full of young people, some of whom are dancing.

Bob Wheelock, a Gansler campaign spokesman, said the candidate will talk Thursday afternoon at his campaign headquarters in Silver Spring about what happened.

Gansler's campaign for the Democratic nomination for the governorship is going through a rough patch.

The Washington Post published a story last week about Maryland State Police describing Gansler as directing troopers assigned to protect him to bypass traffic by driving on the shoulder and presenting other safe-driving concerns. Gansler also made headlines when he responded to the report by calling the commander of the state police's executive protection section a "henchman" of Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who is running against Gansler for the Democratic nomination. Gansler's response brought a rare rebuke from state police, which described the reference to the commander as "unseemly and unacceptable."

Furthermore, Gansler's office announced Tuesday that he paid a photo-camera speeding ticket the attorney general's office received from the District of Columbia. Gansler said the failure to pay immediately was inadvertent as he sought to determine who was driving at the time. The attorney general said he went ahead and paid the ticket, even though he said it's still unclear who was at the wheel.

In August, the Post reported that Gansler told campaign volunteers at a meeting a month earlier that Brown is relying on his race to get elected.

"I mean, right now his campaign slogan is, 'Vote for me, I want to be the first African-American governor of Maryland,' " Gansler told the group in a recording obtained by the newspaper. "That's a laudable goal, but you need a second sentence: 'Because here's what I've done, and here's why I've done it.' "

The race for the Democratic nomination for governor got off to an early start this year, partly because the primary has been moved up from September to June. The race has also been highly competitive so far because O'Malley is barred by term limits from seeking a third term in the heavily Democratic state.

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