- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Democrat Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown and Republican Larry Hogan called in the big guns for the final week of a tight race for governor in Maryland, with national organizations and top political figures joining an election battle that will decide whether the Democratic Party keeps its lock on power in the state.

The national parties have much at stake as they attempt to sway the state’s heavily Democratic electorate to either promote Mr. Brown to the governor’s mansion or deliver an upset victory to Mr. Hogan, who would become only the second GOP governor of Maryland since 1969.

A loss in deep-blue Maryland would sting Democrats and bode badly for the party heading into the 2016 presidential campaigns.

Mr. Brown has run on a platform of continuing and expanding policies of Gov. Martin O’Malley, whom Mr. Brown has served under for eight years. He has promised to establish universal pre-kindergarten and spur job growth with infrastructure projects and tax reforms.

Mr. Hogan has focused on economic issues, vowing to break with the O’Malley-Brown agenda that he says overtaxes and overregulates, pushing residents and business out of state and causing high unemployment. He promises to lower taxes and reduce government spending.

The Democratic Governors Association and the Republican Governors Association both have TV ads up promoting their candidates in the final days of the race.

Mr. Brown is scheduled to campaign Thursday with Hillary Rodham Clinton at University of Maryland, College Park, targeting young voters that the Democrat needs to turn out on Election Day.

Mr. Hogan stumped Wednesday with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the chairman of the RGA and a potential 2016 presidential candidate. It was the third time Mr. Christie campaigned for Mr. Hogan, and he’s scheduled for a fourth visit Sunday.

“This is a neck and neck race, and this is one that we can and should win. That’s why I’m here,” Mr. Chrisite told reporters during a campaign stop with Mr. Hogan at the Honey Bee Diner in Glen Burnie, reported WBAL radio.

Polls have shown the race narrowing in the final stretch.

A poll this week by Gonzales Research showed Mr. Brown with a 2-point lead over Mr. Hogan — 46 percent to 44 percent. The poll was commissioned by the outside group My Maryland PAC, which supports Mr. Hogan.

Other recent polls have shown Mr. Brown with a lead that has ranged from 7 points to 13 points. But Mr. Hogan has remained too close for comfort for Mr. Brown in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2 to 1.

The race at the top of the ballot is the most contentious statewide contest in Maryland this year.

Democrats are poised to continue to hold the offices of comptroller and attorney general as well as dominate the congressional delegation and the General Assembly.

Maryland’s carefully drawn congressional districts promise to return all incumbents to Congress and keep Democrats in seven of the state’s eight House seats, including returning House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer to Capitol Hill.

Voters will elect all 188 members of the Maryland General Assembly, including 141 House delegates and 47 state senators. Some turnover is likely in the House, where several members gave up their seats to seek other offices, but Democrats are expected to retain an overwhelming majority.

Democrats currently enjoy a veto-proof majority of 98 seats in the House and 35 seats in the Senate, which would give the party significant bargaining power should Mr. Hogan become governor, but those numbers remain unchanged.

Maryland voters also will decide two statewide ballot questions that would amend the state constitution.

The first proposed constitutional amendment would create a State Transportation Trust Fund. The money could only be used for transportation projects unless the governor declares a fiscal emergency and the General Assembly approves transferring the funds.

The other constitutional amendment would allow counties to fill vacancies in county executive offices through special elections.

Early voting began last week in Maryland and continues until 8 p.m. Thursday at early voting stations across the state. The polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for Election Day.

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