- Associated Press - Friday, September 12, 2014

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Republican Larry Hogan said Friday that if Maryland residents want a substantial change in direction in the governor’s office, they should vote for him, while Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown told a conference of local officials that the kind of changes Hogan advocates would hurt the state.

Hogan and Brown each spoke separately for about 10 minutes at the Maryland Municipal League’s fall conference.

Hogan, a real estate broker who spoke first, has been campaigning as the candidate who would bring fiscal changes after eight years of tax hikes and policies he believes are scaring businesses away from Maryland. Hogan, who faces the challenge of overcoming a 2-1 Democrat-to-Republican voter registration edge in a statewide race, has been trying to win over Democrats as well as unaffiliated voters.

On Friday, he summed up the race as a choice between change and status quo, as voters will be choosing a new governor because Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley is term limited.

“It really all comes down to this, if you are happy with the current direction that our state is heading and you think a third term of the current administration would be good for you, your town, your constituents and our state, then you should probably vote for my opponent,” Hogan said. “But if you feel that a change of direction and a change of leadership is needed, it doesn’t matter what part of the state you’re from or what your party affiliation is, you have the power to do something about it by voting to bring about that change.”

Hogan has campaigned on cutting taxes and reducing spending, but Brown has countered that his opponent hasn’t specifically spelled out how he would make up for the shortfall such cuts would create in the state budget. Brown also said Hogan’s tax cuts would favor the wealthy few at the expense of working families.

“There is a role for large corporations in our economy,” Brown said Friday. “Wealth is part of the American dream for so many Americans and Marylanders, but we should not be favoring large corporations and the privileged, wealthy few at the expense of Maryland’s working families and middle-class values.”

While much of Hogan’s campaign has focused on policies during O’Malley’s tenure, Brown said this campaign is not about the past.

“This campaign is about the future,” Brown said. “It’s about what’s next for Maryland. It’s about the jobs and the opportunities and the conditions of success that we create in Maryland’s future.”

Both candidates received applause from the audience when they noted they would work to restore big cuts to state funding for local highway money - a sore point for local officials in recent years as the money has been used to fill budget holes during the recession and its aftermath.

The Maryland Municipal League is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association of city and town governments.

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