A portion of a mailer from the Maryland Democratic Party in support of candidate Anthony Brown which appears to divide voters by race.
The Maryland Democratic Party has been sending out mailers to heavily African American areas telling them to vote for Anthony Brown because its our turn to have the states first black governor.
The mailers and handouts, which have offended some older white voters who saw them, visually tie Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown to Martin Luther King and President Barack Obama. Weve come a long way in our journey, says the cover of one mailer.
This mailer from the Maryland Democratic Party in support of candidate Anthony Brown invokes race and visions of past discrimination.
Theyve placed roadblocks in our path at every turn, said another mailer to Fort Washington in Prince Georges County. It depicts signs about segregated facilities, voter ID, Go back to Africa demonstrations from the 1960s, and billionaire birther Donald Trump with a billboard Wheres the birth certificate?
Roadblocks in our path
The strong appeal to African Americans is hardly a surprise, since they are essential to any Democratic win. They make up 30% of Marylands population, 25% or more of the likely voters, and nine out of 10 vote Democratic.
Brown rarely brings up his own race
But urging them to Vote for Anthony Brown as Marylands first African American governor is unusual in a race where the candidate rarely brings up his own race, though many others do.
When Attorney General Doug Gansler, a Brown primary opponent, told a group of volunteers last year that I mean, right now his campaign slogan is, Vote for me, I want to be the first African American governor of Maryland, the Brown campaign jumped all over the secretly recorded remark which was leaked to the Washington Post.
Brown campaign manager Justin Schall called Gansler out of touch with Maryland values.
Now the state Democratic Party is using the same message as part of a massive push to get out the vote (GOTV) among the partys most reliable supporters. On Sunday, there was a huge Soul to the polls effort asking pastors of mostly black churches to urge their congregants to vote at early polling places after church was over.
Anthony Brown seems still somewhat ambivalent about the racial appeal, at least in front of a largely white audience as he was Oct. 18 in a TV debate broadcast on four stations.
As usual, a reporter, not Brown, brought up the topic. Here is a transcript of the entire exchange. (It takes place around minute 46 in the online video.)
Race as an issue
WBAL reporter Deborah Weiner: Lieutenant governor, if elected, you would become the states first African American governor in the states history. Does race matter in this race?
Anthony Brown: I understand the significance of race and certainly the historical significance of being elected Marylands governor. Ill be only the first African American elected governor in the history of this state and only the third in the history of this nation.
I think where race has more significance is when we look at, for example, education and the question was raised about the achievement gap. We have an achievement gap along racial lines and thats why I support universal pre-k to help close that achievement gap.
We talked a little about health care, but I wish we would have talked more broadly about health reform because we know that we have health disparities by both race, ethnicity and geography. Thats why I led the effort to create health enterprise zones to address those disparities and to eliminate the difference in outcomes along racial lines.
So I think race is important to the extent that the quality of life goals that we achieve ought to be experienced uniformly by all Marylanders regardless of where your family lives, where theyre from, race, ethnicity or nationality.
Moderator: Mr. Hogan, the same question to you.
Larry Hogan Jr. Well, I dont know about you at home but I have no idea what he just said. The question was
I dont think race has any part whatsoever in this race for governor, and the people I talk to around the state dont really care about whether the next governor is going to be white or black, Asian or Hispanic.
Theyre looking for somebody thats gonna turn the state around. They dont want to go in the same direction. Theyre looking to move Maryland forward rather than continuing to move backwards.
I dont think it should be an issue. And I dont think it is an issue.
You know my wife will be the first Asian first lady in Maryland history, and that shouldnt be an issue either. (END OF TRANSCRIPT)
Race almost always an issue
Race has almost always been an issue in Maryland elections since the Civil War.
It was dominant racist Democrats who engaged in black voter suppression in the 19th Century, and most Maryland blacks were Republicans until the 1930s and President Franklin Roosevelt.
The parties have switched roles, and Democrats have used racial charges to defeat Republican candidates, such as Ellen Sauerbrey in 1998.
African Americans have also complained about being made to wait their turn by Democrats for far too long.
The first African American ever elected to statewide office was Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, chosen by Gov. Bob Ehrlich. Now, no ticket for governor and lieutenant governor in either party is made up of two white males.
Hogans running mate, Boyd Rutherford, is black.