When I started this blog last fall to advocate for electoral reforms, my intention was not to endorse any gubernatorial candidates. My only goal was to bring my priority issues—slates, sample ballots, and gerrymandering—into the political discussion during this election season.
However, as I kept at it, it became clear to me that in good conscience I can only support one of the candidates in my own party. That candidate is Heather Mizeur.
First of all, of the three major Democrats in the race—Mizeur, Anthony Brown, and Doug Gansler—Mizeur was the only one who had the courtesy of responding to my questions. I had three simple, relevant questions for the candidates. Despite repeated contacts, the Brown and Gansler camps never bothered to answer my inquiries in any way—not even to say “No comment.” It is not very promising when a candidate is that unresponsive during a time when they are supposedly fighting for every vote.
Second, Mizeur agrees with me on two of my three questions. She supports outlawing candidate slates and reforming our redistricting process. Even though she is not supportive of outlawing sample ballot advertisements, I suspect that getting rid of candidate slates would greatly diminish the use of such advertisements. I will even give it to Mizeur that there could be constitutional challenges outlawing sample ballots.
I also must give Mizeur credit for highlighting the issue of gerrymandering and need for redistricting reform during the campaign. Again, nothing from the Brown and Gansler camps. Thus, there is only one candidate I can count on to advance good governance reforms and to challenge entrenched Democratic party insiders. In a state controlled by one party (my own party), that is a quality I consider to be very important.
Now that the February 25, 2014 filing deadline for candidacy has passed, we know who all is in the Maryland gubernatorial race. According to the Maryland Board of Elections website, these are our gubernatorial hopefuls:
Anthony Brown/Ken Ulman
Doug Gansler/Jolene Ivey
Ralph Jaffe/Freda Jaffe
Heather Mizeur/Delman Coates
Charles U. Smith/Clarence Tucker (no website)
Cindy Walsh/Mary Wingate-Pennacchia
David Craig/Jeannie Haddaway
Ron George/Shelley Aloi
Larry Hogan/Boyd Rutherford
Charles Lollar/Ken Timmerman
Brian Vaeth/Duane Davis
Shawn Quinn/Lorenzo Gaztanaga
I have submitted my three questions to all of these candidates. As of today, only Heather Mizeur and Shawn Quinn have had the courtesy of responding to my questions. I will continue reporting the responses and non-responses I receive from the candidates here on this blog.
Doug Gansler, Maryland Attorney General, finally made his entry to the Democratic gubernatorial primary contest official, and now his campaign website seems fully functional. After having been surprised by the Brown and Mizeur campaign sites for their complete lack of information on their issue platforms, I was pleased to see that Gansler actually has a relatively robust “issues” section on his site. Based on the campaign sites, one could consider Gansler’s claim to be the “ideas candidate” justified.
On his website, Gansler details six “good government” proposals. They all revolve around transparency and access to public information. While these are obviously important issues, I hope that our next governor will take a broader view of what “good government” means. Current total dysfunction in Congress cries for non-partisan redistricting reform. I also hope that our next governor will understand how corrosive Maryland’s system of candidate slates is to our basic democratic values.
I am now getting ready to undertake the actual work I intend to do with this blog—to find out where all the 2014 Maryland gubernatorial candidates stand on the good governance issues of my concern. The natural first step in this process was to go to the candidates’ websites to find out if they have articulated their positions on these issues.
I started with the two declared candidates on the Democratic side, Anthony Brown and Heather Mizeur. What I found on the two candidates’ websites was nothing short of stunning.
I did not find anything on the websites about the two Democratic candidates’ positions on slates, “sample ballots” or redistricting. But honestly, I did not expect to find anything on these specific topics. What completely caught me by surprise was the total lack of information about the candidates’ platforms on the websites—on any issues. Go check it out if you don’t believe me: http://anthonybrown.com/ and http://www.heathermizeur.com/.
When you go to Brown’s website, you will find out about all the wonderful endorsements he has received. When you go to the Mizeur site, you will see that she is attending tons of events all over the place. But no “issues” or “platform” section on either site explaining where the candidate actually stands on issues of concern to Maryland voters. Is this really what our politics has become? It’s not like Brown and Mizeur just entered the race a few days ago, or that they are complete newbies to politics.
On this blog, I intend to stay focused on the good governance issues I care about. But I could not let this observation go without mentioning it. This makes me embarrassed to be a Democrat.