What happened? Democrat Anthony G. Brown managed to lose the race for governorship in a solidly Democratic bastion like Maryland to his Republican opponent Larry Hogan even though heavy hitters like Bill and Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama came to the state to campaign for him.
And while a wave of Republican victories across the country in governorships, the Senate and the House was a factor, the blame ultimately falls on Brown and his lackluster campaign. Brown made the fateful decision to try to distance himself from the tax increases of the Martin O’Malley administration, in which he served as lieutenant governor, and Hogan mercilessly lambasted him for it, pledging that he would cut taxes.
What Brown should have done is made a forceful argument for what those taxes pay for: roads, repairing a dilapidated city and its aging water system as well as keeping critical social services functioning. Baltimore is a city where even the boards on abandoned buildings are falling apart. It takes money to fix these things.
Brown also failed to ignite the population to rally around him. He managed to pull in less votes than he and O’Malley did in 2010 in critical parts of the state: 33,977 less in Baltimore City, 43,912 less in Baltimore County, 29,952 less in Prince Georges County, 47,435 less in Montgomery County and 11,011 less in Howard County. Hogan, whose slogan was “Change Maryland,” won with only 76,596 more votes. Prior to Robert Ehrlich taking office in 2003, the last time Maryland elected a Republican governor was in 1967. Imagine if Brown had managed to inspire even just the same number of people who voted for him and O’Malley in 2010.
Republicans picked up nine seats in the General Assembly—two in the Senate and seven in the House of Delegates—which means that while Democrats retain majorities more bargaining will have to happen. And we all know that Republicans consider compromise to be a dirty word.
Brown didn’t kick it, he didn’t shake it and too often we didn’t know he was there. His campaign simply did not reach the same levels reached by Democratic campaigns of past years. The state of Maryland is evolving but the bottom line is this defeat should never have happened.
Buckle-up, we fear the Black community may pay a steep price for what happened in Maryland on November 4, 2014.