(Arlington, Virginia) – They avoided the Maryland Health Exchange in the first debate but at News Channel 8 in Arlington, Virginia it was front and center. It was a “complete disaster” according to Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Larry Hogan. “We rolled up our selves and got it done” was the response from Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown. “You want to give this guy a promotion, says Hogan. Brown counters, it may have gone badly but the Democratic nominee was prepared to crow about 400,000 people signed up for the Health Exchange.
These are tried and tested quotes the campaigns love. If anything getting them off the talking points has been nearly impossible. The closest we get to being non-scripted is having each man calling the other by their first names. The name calling continued, “You lying about my record.” “Your math doesn’t add up,” have been lobbed before.
This time there was a lot of pushing on the numbers. “You would cut 450 million dollars from school construction. That would gut the entire Montgomery County’s school construction,” says Lt. Governor Brown. “I don’t know where you got that number…all I asked for was to streamline government…we would never decrease school construction” countered Hogan. It almost became juvenile with each many man trying to one up each other.
There is one debate left and I’m as confused as the electorate. More importantly the race for Governor has not generated the excitement a race of this nature should create. Sure the “political junkies” are salivating for their opportunity to boast our guy one. Unfortunately, this is one of the winner take all battles that get Maryland political operatives “ginned up.” If you not a part of this class you’re likely hoping it ends soon. Trying to get through this clutter is mind-boggling.
Look here are some of the realities if Hogan wins he’ll have to work with Democratic majorities. “Maybe we’ll find consensus and compromise,” says the Republican Gubernatorial Nominee. “I have a good working relationship with presiding officers,” counters Lt. Governor Brown. These are great talking points but they underlie several critical issues. The State Comptroller pointed out tax revenue is down and you will have to cut. This is reality. Lastly, we aren’t in as bad shape as people say we are.
The Polls Tell Different Stories
On the eve of this debate the Baltimore Sun released a poll (http://www.baltimoresun.com/videogallery/81642382/Politics/Sun-Poll-Brown-shows-lead-over-Hogan) it shows while the race is tight Brown continues to have a 7 point lead. Prior to this poll the Washington Post Poll came to a similar conclusion (9 point lead). Early polls show the gap narrowing but, overall the leader was Brown. It showed the Hogan campaign had cut into what should be a “runaway race” for Brown.
There is even sometimes out of context polls taken in Maryland. Maryland Reporter (www.MarylandReporter.com) pointed out and instance in the CBS News/NY Times poll. Noting the bogus numbers, it showed a 17 point for the Lieutenant Governor. This spread was far outside what established polls reported (http://marylandreporter.com/2014/10/12/cbs-news-n-y-times-poll-has-bogus-numbers-for-md-again/).
The dagger however was the endorsement of Brown by the Washington Post. The Post called Lt. Governor Brown, “the more knowledgeable man and nimble politician.” In their selection they called Hogan’s economic plan “mush.” You can imagine this did not sit well with the Hogan campaign. Interesting this camp went after the messengers.
John Wagner who writes for the Post noted in a column, “Hogan also accused The Washington Posteditorial board of a “lack of journalistic integrity.” After the debate he charged News Channel 8 moderators with conducting “an interrogation.” Suggesting this was the conspiracy of “the liberal media.” Look I cut it straight down the line. A similar tone was expressed by RedStateMaryland.blogspot.com. Note to political operatives, whining is not a political strategy.
It’s clear this will not be Maryland’s finest hour when it comes to turn out. In an appearance on WEAA-FM I was joined by Barry Rascovar, Columnist for the Gazette, and Independent Political Consultant, Catalina Byrd. Rascovar rationalize what each man hopes from turnout. “Hogan needs big turnouts on the Eastern Shore and in Western Maryland…for Brown he has to get big numbers in Prince Georges, Montgomery, and Howard Counties.” He said Hogan hopes there is enough apathy in those counties which will make the race close.
I also surmised there is a fatigued factor with democrats in the state. A Goucher Poll showed if the current governor (Martin O’Malley) were allowed to run again, he wouldn’t win the state. All of these factors will play out in the waning days of the campaign. Expect more negative ads.
The post debate pressers are a combination of spin, political adjustment, and a chance to say you won. In the last two events after debates Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown has been a no show. At the first event there was Ken Ullman for the Democrats and a number legislators. Appreciated this effort but, where was the Lieutenant Governor? We saw him behind dark windows in an SUV. On cue, who emerges from behind close doors as these surrogates are begining to speak, Larry Hogan. What's his first statement, "We won the debate." Look there is a new school of thoughts in Public Relations circles - control the message, limit exposure, shut off question before you get a tough one. Okay, you want to play this silly game let me suggest it's not our responsibility to cover you when the subject matter is less than newsworthy. FYI, a surrogate other than the Lieutenant Governor is a second hand source. I am not required to ask questions that hit your talking points.
Can you hear me!!!!