Karina Elwood
For Immediate Release

Meet the candidates who want to be Maryland’s next governor

Doug Gansler’s Candidate Profile in the Washington Post:

Doug Gansler quickly climbed the stone pathway leading to the front door of a home in Chevy Chase, just north of the D.C. border, ready to deliver a firm handshake and to-the-point message: “Hi, I’m Doug Gansler. I’m running for governor and I grew up a couple doors down.”

The former Maryland attorney general, who has spent 23 years in government service, wants another shot at the governor’s mansion after losing a primary election in 2014 […]. This year, he’s running on a moderate agenda that centers on fighting crime and protecting the environment — issues he said he’s uniquely qualified to address and hopes will set him apart in a crowded, nine-person Democratic primary.

“With crime exploding, and climate change being real, those are areas that I’m uniquely qualified to lead on and have led on,” Gansler said. “We’re the right team for this moment, given the issues of the day.”

With just over $1 million on hand as of June and weeks remaining until the primary, Gansler leans into his record as attorney general to distinguish himself as all Democratic candidates in this blue state that elected a Republican governor twice in eight years struggle to break through.

He said establishment Democrats in search of a moderate candidate with wide appeal for the general election nudged him to reenter the arena. Gansler agreed that he could be that candidate. The uphill battle will be getting the Democratic nomination in the crowded pool.

“I’m the only pro-business, pro-public safety, moderate Democrat in the field, but I work with progressives all the time on progressive issues,” Gansler said during a recent interview. “The question is, does the Democratic Party want to willingly commit political suicide, and do the same thing we’ve done in the last bunch of elections? We’ve lost three of the last five elections, the most Democratic state in the country.”

As Maryland attorney general from 2007 to 2015, Gansler conducted environmental audits to identify pollutants and help clean the Chesapeake Bay, expanded the prosecution of gangs and — before same-sex marriage became legal in Maryland — wrote an opinion that Maryland should recognize same-sex marriages conducted in other states and that state agencies should recognize same-sex married couples with the same rights.

[…] Gansler said he is feeling energized by this year’s campaign. He’s running with former Hyattsville Mayor Candace Bacchus Hollingsworth, who was elected in 2015 as the city’s youngest and first Black mayor and now works with Our Black Party, a national organization she co-founded to build the relationship between the Black community and the political system.

Gansler started his career in politics at 13 knocking on doors for Frank Mankiewicz, who was running for Congress. He first moved to Montgomery County from New Jersey when he was a kid for his father’s work as assistant secretary of defense, appointed by President Richard M. Nixon — an early government service influence. It was supposed to be a temporary move, but the Ganslers stuck around.

Gansler continued to work on campaigns throughout his time at Yale and until he graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law, when he then began clerking for the Maryland Court of Appeals. He then headed to D.C. to work for the U.S. attorney’s office.

While serving as Montgomery County state’s attorney, he garnered national attention for high-profile prosecutions like boxer Mike Tyson’s road-rage attack in Gaithersburg in 1998 and the Washington-area sniper shootings in 2002.

He said he was also proud of implementing drug courts, domestic violence dockets and community prosecution, in which prosecution is assigned by neighborhood rather than crime categories. If elected as governor, Gansler said he would like to bring all those initiative statewide.

In his first TV ad, released earlier last month, Gansler focused on his tough-on-crime approach. The spot opens with a scene of a carjacking, followed by Gansler appearing on the screen to discuss how he would keep Marylanders safe: hire 1,000 new officers trained in violence de-escalation, install 10,000 new streetlights and get guns off the street.

“A balanced approach to safety and justice,” he says at the end of the ad.

Vivek Chopra, who worked with Gansler for about five years as assistant Montgomery County state’s attorney, said he was a tough boss, but someone who cares deeply about serving others and creating an environment for good lawyers to excel. His experience and leadership make him the right candidate for governor, he said.

“You have to motivate law enforcement to do the right thing and also aggressively enforce the laws, and law enforcement feels abandoned by most Democratic politicians right now. For better or for worse, I think that’s the feeling,” Chopra said. “I think Doug can strike the right balance with justice support, because a lot of the critiques of law enforcement recently have been right and fair, and he gets it, he always has.”

“Doug can be glib, he’s social,” Chopra said, “but, Doug really cares.”

Outside of politics, Gansler enjoys playing lacrosse — he started Charm City Youth Lacrosse League to bring the sport to underserved communities in Baltimore — and reading — he started a book club in 1989 that’s still running today.

On a recent Friday afternoon, beading sweat in temperatures reaching the high 90s, Gansler addressed a small group of volunteers that would be helping knocking on doors and handing out fliers in his childhood neighborhood.

“If no one answers, just leave it,” Gansler said about the fliers. “They’ll remember we came and no one else did.”

— Karina Elwood


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