By BRIAN WITTE – Associated Press
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Crime, education and the economy were the top issues discussed Monday by eight candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of Maryland in their first wide televised debate. of State.
The candidates also took the opportunity during the debate on Maryland’s public television to face opponents with whom they believe they will compete more closely in the crowded primary, which will be held on July 19. The governor’s office is open this election cycle because Republican Governor Larry Hogan is serving a limited term.
Rushern Baker, Jon Baron, Peter Franchot, Doug Gansler, Ashwani Jain, John King, Wes Moore and Tom Perez took part in the hour-long debate that aired Monday night.
Franchot, who has served as state comptroller since 2007, and former attorney general Doug Gansler, pointed to their experience in a statewide office as qualifying them to tackle issues facing the next governor. will be confronted. Tom Perez, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, also highlighted his experience in local, state and federal government.
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Wes Moore, bestselling author and former CEO of the Robin Hood Foundation – which focuses on fighting poverty – criticized Franchot during the debate, saying he had accepted campaign donations from entities he had voted for to approve contracts as one of three state members. powerful board of public works.
Franchot responded that he demonstrated integrity in a life of public service. He noted that he was elected four times in statewide races to be the state’s tax collector.
“I’ve spent my whole life serving the people,” said Franchot, who also served as Montgomery County’s delegate to the state legislature.
Moore presented himself as someone who worked for the public good outside of politics.
“I’ve been a public servant all my life,” Moore said. “I just haven’t been a politician.”
Perez, who also served in former President Barack Obama’s administration as assistant attorney general for civil rights from 2009 to 2013, questioned Moore’s commitment to public service. Perez said he fought predatory lenders when Moore worked for Citibank during the foreclosure crisis.
“I don’t know how working at Citibank is a public service,” Perez said.
Moore responded by questioning Perez’s work on predatory lending, saying “nobody went to jail” as a result of his efforts. He also said Perez won a vote of no confidence from the Congressional Black Caucus when he was chairman of the Democratic Party in 2018.
Perez said he wasn’t involved in the lawsuits against Wall Street bankers, but he pointed to two big cases he settled regarding fair housing.
Perez said he is running to increase jobs and opportunities statewide.
“I want to get things done,” Perez said, noting his endorsement by The Washington Post.
Baker, a former Prince George’s County leader, focused on how he worked to restore public trust in the state’s second-largest county, after his predecessor went to jail in a scandal of public corruption. Baker also noted that he was running his campaign with public campaign finance.
John King, a former US education secretary, said he would focus on ensuring education is well-funded in the state. He said a huge investment in K-12 education known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future would be a floor, not a ceiling, if elected governor.
“We need to commit to the necessary investments,” King said.
Gansler, who is also a former Montgomery County prosecutor, emphasized crime fighting.
“This election is about crime and criminal justice,” Gansler said, adding that he supports hiring more police officers and training them in de-escalation techniques.
Baron, a former nonprofit executive, said the state must adopt innovative approaches to improve education and raise stagnant wages. He said he supported providing high-quality tutoring to struggling elementary students so they don’t fall behind.
Jain, a former Obama administration official, said he was running to make government more inclusive, bringing experience from both the public and private sectors.
Jérôme Segal, who is also seeking the nomination, was not invited to the debate.
“The Maryland Public Television Debate is a significant event that airs statewide on other media, including WBAL-TV,” Segal said in a statement. “My exclusion from the debate is a blow to my campaign, and I believe it is illegal.”
Tom Williams, MPT’s chief communications officer, said MPT used its best judgment to determine that Segal’s campaign did not meet the criteria for participation. Williams said MPT will provide her with the opportunity to discuss her campaign on an MPT program.
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