Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown was supposed to have an easy victory this November. The Democrat in a state with a two-to-one voter registration advantage over Republicans was expected to coast to victory in the deeply blue state and become its first African-American governor. That’s not shaping up to be the case.
Brown is still favored to win, but polls have it much closer than conventional wisdom thought it would be. Republican challenger Larry Hogan is within single digits and gaining steam.
The unpopularity of Gov. Martin O’Malley, and Brown’s leadership in the state’s failed $288 million health-care exchange website, have hampered what was expected to be a coronation.
Anthony Brown has performed poorly in each of the candidate’s three debates, and his campaign ads have been mostly negative attacks on Hogan, a small business owner and founder of the non-profit Change Maryland. He’s also been accused of ducking the media. He even got the name of one of the state’s largest cities wrong, saying he visited “Fredericktown.” The city is Frederick. This led to a parody song mocking him.
Enthusiasm for Brown is low.
All these factors appear to have led to the Democratic Party of Maryland to panic.
A new mailer with the authority line “Paid for by the Maryland Democratic Party” targets black voters by tying Republicans to the Democratic Party’s racist past.
The mailer’s front page reads, “It’s been a long journey…” over a picture of Martin Luther King and civil rights marchers.
The next page reads, “They’ve placed roadblocks in our path at every turn.” It features pictures of a “colored waiting room” sign, a “must show ID to vote,” sign, racists marching against civil rights, and Donald Trump superimposed over a billboard reading “Where’s the birth certificate?” At the bottom it reads, “In Maryland, it’s our turn to take an important step in the journey…”
That leads to the next page, reading, “Vote for Anthony Brown as Maryland’s first African-American Governor.” And includes, “History is watching to see if we vote.”
The mailer was sent to an African-American woman in Silver Spring, Md., who was appalled and tweeted it. The woman, known as FreedomGirlRN on Twitter, told me, “Do you think they sent this out to WHITES? Of course not. This was addressed to my husband –>Democrat and 1of my daughters- Independent.
Historically, the use of race in this manner is a sign of worried campaign, who have access to internal polling the general public does not. We’ve seen it this cycle in North Carolina, where parishioners at a black church received fliers using images of a lynching and warning if Democrat Kay Hagan loses President Obama will be impeached, and Georgia, where Democrats told voters to vote for Democrats “to prevent another Ferguson.” Now we see it in the very, very blue Maryland.