Gansler won’t be pressured by opponents, strategist says

Despite calls from some political observers for Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler to formally announce his candidacy for governor, Gansler’s campaign strategist said there is no rush.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (File Photo)

“We have a very clear, very well thought out plan that we’re executing. It isn’t going to be dictated by decisions our opponents make,” Doug Thornell said. “I’m not really familiar with any campaigns that have been won in the June in the off year. … There is more than  a year until the primary.”

Pressure intensified when news broke that Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown would name Howard County Executive Ken Ulman his running mate Monday morning in Columbia.

Gansler has said he won’t make a formal announcement of his intentions until the fall, but some say he would give Brown an insurmountable edge by waiting that long.

Thornell, however, brushed aside that criticism.

“I think he’s been clear he’s been planning to run for governor,” Thornell said. “It’ll begin at a time and place of our choosing.”

He also dished out his own criticism, calling into question why Brown planned to be so quick to announce Ulman as his running mate.

“For a campaign desperate to demonstrate that their candidate can stand on their own record, rushing out to name a running mate this early seems odd,” Thornell said.

Other potential Democratic contenders for governor include Del. Heather R. Mizeur, D-Montgomery, and U.S. Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger. Neither has officially announced their candidacy.

Harford County Executive David R. Craig is poised to become the first Republican to officially announce his candidacy Monday morning. Del. Ronald A. George, an Anne Arundel County Republican, plans to announce his candidacy Wednesday afternoon.

Eye Opener: Ulman’s Howard County sendoff

Here’s a few government and politics headlines for Friday:

What the Brown/Ulman ticket means for Gansler

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (File Photo)

If Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler wants to be governor, he needs to officially join the race, political observers say.

David Moon, a Democratic political consultant and blogger for MarylandJuice.com, said Gansler and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown appear to be taking opposite paths in their quest to succeed Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is term-limited.

Brown became the first hopeful to officially announce his candidacy this month, taking cues from lessons apparently learned during O’Malley’s first campaign for governor prior to the 2006 election.

Gansler’s strategy has been different, Moon said, because of a belief in his camp that a campaign could lose steam or peak too early. The attorney general has said he does not plan to decide whether to officially run for governor until this fall.

“In 2006, I heard Gansler talking to some other candidate: ‘People don’t like long campaigns, so don’t get out there too early. You’ll put a target on your back,’” Moon said. “When I look at whats going on in the field right now … he’s bringing that same advice to his own campaign.”

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Ulman joining Brown’s ticket in governor’s race

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (Photo: Maryland State Archives)

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman will join Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown‘s ticket in next year’s race for governor.

The official announcement will come June 3 in Columbia, according to an email circulated by Annapolis lobbyists.

David Nitkin, director of communications for Howard County, confirmed Wednesday morning an announcement would be made June 3 in Columbia about the 2014 election but would not confirm the substance of the announcement.

Ulman’s decision to join Brown’s camp has been rumored for weeks. Brown became the first person to officially announce his candidacy for governor this month and has some name-recognition after serving as Gov. Martin O’Malley’s No. 2 since 2007.

Other possible Democratic contenders include Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (who has said he may not officially announce his decision on whether to run until this fall), U.S. Rep C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger and Del. Heather R. Mizeur, a Montgomery County Democrat.

Republican hopefuls include Harford County Executive David R. Craig, Del. Ronald A. George of Anne Arundel County, former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino (who lost a U.S. Senate bid last year) Larry Hogan (a former cabinet secretary for Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who now runs Change Maryland) and Blaine R. Young, president of the Frederick County commissioners.

Eye Opener: Transportation secretary to be named today

Gov. Martin O’Malley is expected to make a “major transportation announcement” at 1 p.m., accord to a release sent by his office.

That announcement will be the naming of former Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith as transportation secretary, according to several reports.

Here’s a few other government and politics headlines:

Brown gets early endorsement from trial lawyers

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

Maryland’s trial lawyers want Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown to be the state’s next governor.

In a statement released Tuesday, Maryland Association for Justice said it held one-on-one interviews with each potential gubernatorial candidate and chose to endorse Brown, a Democrat.

Bruce Plaxen, chairman of the organization’s political action committee, said in a statement that the endorsement was “unanimous.”

“Anthony Brown has a proven and exemplary record as a delegate and lieutenant governor standing up for all Marylanders and in support of the civil justice system,” the statement said. “The Maryland Association for Justice is committed to keeping families safe and Anthony Brown shares that vision for Maryland. We urge all our members and the public to support Anthony Brown for governor.”

Brown this month became the first 2014 hopeful to announce his candidacy. Harford County Executive David R. Craig, a Republican, and Republican Del. Ronald A. George of Anne Arundel County intend to announce their candidacy next week.

Other Republican candidates could include former Secret Service agent Dan Bongino (who lost a U.S. Senate bid last year) Larry Hogan (a former cabinet secretary for Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. who now runs Change Maryland) and Blaine R. Young, president of the Frederick County commissioners.

Other possible Democratic contenders include Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (who has said he may not officially announce his decision on whether to run until this fall), Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (who is reportedly in talks to join Brown’s ticket), U.S. Rep C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger and Del. Heather R. Mizeur, a Montgomery County Democrat.

Powerful politicians attend wedding of powerful lobbyists

Some of the most powerful politicians in Baltimore and Maryland attended the wedding of top lobbyists in Las Vegas this week, the Afro-American reported Friday.

The story includes a photo of new bride Lisa Harris Jones of Harris Jones & Malone LLC posing with Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (who officiated Jones’ nuptials with Sean R. Malone, the Afro reported), state Sen. Catherine E. Pugh and Jeanne D. Hitchcock, Gov. Martin O’Malley’s appointments secretary.

Jones earned $840,195 lobbying state lawmakers during last year’s legislative session, the third-highest total among her colleagues. She’s a longtime friend of Rawlings-Blake and frequently lobbies City Hall — as does Malone — according to the Baltimore Brew, which picked up the Afro’s story.

Sen. Joan Carter Conway, a Baltimore Democrat who chairs the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, was one of Jones’ bridesmaids. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown were also in attendance, the Afro reported.

Other current state officials present included Del. Dereck E. Davis, a Prince George’s Democrat who chairs the House Economic Matters Committee and acting Deputy Secretary of Transportation Leif A. Dormsjo.

Many elected officials were in Vegas this week for an annual shopping center convention.

Prince George’s casino meetings could start in June

A formal schedule is far from complete, but the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission could soon start to consider proposals for Prince George’s County’s casino license.

Jaclyn L. Vincent, director of gaming research and chief of staff for the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said there would “hopefully” be a meeting of the location commission in June, with site visits and public presentations of casino proposals tentatively scheduled for July.

The license is still expected to be awarded by the end of the year, Lottery officials said Thursday, despite the agency receiving one more bid than originally expected.

MGM Resorts International Inc. has proposed a resort casino with 3,600 slot machines and 140 table games to be built at the sprawling National Harbor mini-city near Oxon Hill. Penn National Gaming Inc. has proposed building a casino at Rosecroft Raceway that includes 140 table games and “at least” 3,000 slot machines — though the company only paid an initial license fee to cover 500 slots.

The surprise bidder was Greenwood Racing Inc., the owner of Parx Casino near Philadelphia. That company has proposed building a resort casino near the intersection of Indian Head Highway and Old Fort Road in Fort Washington with 4,750 slots and 170 table games.

Eye Opener: Counties ready to put gas tax money to use

Here are a few government and politics headlines for Friday:

Gambling commissioner wants close look at Penn National’s corporate plans

A rendering of Penn National Gaming Inc.'s plan for Rosecroft Raceway, if it wins Prince George's County's casino license.

The Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission plans to take a closer look at Penn National Gaming Inc.’s plan to split into two companies.

The Wyomissing, Pa.-based gambling company plans to cede control of its casinos (and other real estate) to a publicly-traded Real Estate Investment Trust called Gaming and Leisure Properties, Inc. The entity known as Penn National Gaming would retain the company’s operating assets.

In the split, Hollywood Casino Perryville would be owned by Gaming and Leisure Properties, freeing up Penn National Gaming — which would retain ownership of Rosecroft Raceway — to build a casino there if awarded Prince George’s County’s casino license by the Video Lottery Facility Location Commission.

State law prohibits a company from holding more than one casino license.

John W. Morton III, a new Lottery commissioner who also chaired a task force last summer to study expanded gambling, said he felt the commission needed “to be very careful.”

“The form I understand, with the REIT,” Morton said Thursday. “The substance, however, is something different.”

Penn National is one of three companies vying to build a casino in Prince George’s County, considered by many to be the premier location for such a facility in the United States.

MGM Resorts International Inc. has bid to build a resort casino at National Harbor. Greenwood Racing Inc. — owner of Parx Casino near Philadelphia and partners with the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. in a casino bid in Philadelphia — is seeking to build a resort casino in Fort Washington.

“Obviously, there is a lot of personnel and financial resources behind these bids,” Morton said.