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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.”

That strategy could backfire, Moon said, as Brown and new running mate Ken Ulman are being talked about as frontrunners. The longer that perception is present, Moon said, Gansler and other Democratic hopefuls — such as Del. Heather R. Mizeur, D-Montgomery, and U.S. Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger — risk losing important endorsements or campaign contributions.

Donald F. Norris, chairman of the Department of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said the accelerated primary schedule — votes will be cast in June next year, rather than September — made getting into the race early more important during the current election cycle.

State elected officials — including Brown, Gansler and Mizeur — are legally barred from holding fundraisers during the General Assembly‘s 90-day session, which begins Jan. 8.

“He cant wait too long, because the campaign is going to be over in January,” Norris said of Gansler.