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Obamacare fallout and the race for Maryland governor

Doug Gansler’s campaign for governor has gotten off to a rocky start and the attorney general and Montgomery County Democrat may now be attempting to paste a political opponent with the failures of the state’s fledgling  health care exchange.

Gansler, DougMF30

Doug Gansler

On Friday, Gansler replaced campaign manager Matthew “Mudcat” Arnold with Antigone Davis, a long-time Gansler aide. Davis is the third person to hold the job since August.

Earlier in the year, the attorney general was the focus of a number of unflattering stories including a Washington Post report about issues related to the use of his Maryland State Police protection unit and his state vehicle. A separate report highlighted Gansler’s appearance at an underage kegger [Gansler said he was just visiting his son who was at the party but not drinking alcohol].

But the failure of the Maryland state health benefits exchange presents an opportunity to turn the focus on to Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, according to Politico.

Bob Wheelock, a Gansler campaign spokesman, told website in an email that  the buck stops with Brown, the state’s point person on the health care exchange.

“That is where the breakdown occurred. To suggest otherwise is clearly to shift the focus off of the Lt. Governors failure to do his job,” Wheelock wrote in an email to the website.

In recent weeks, Brown and Gov. Martin O’Malley have held a number of news conferences in an attempt to publicly address the issues.

Earlier this month, Brown told reporters that the performance of the site was improving but offered little in the way of benchmarks or promises about how well the site would ultimately work or when it would no longer be plagued with glitches.

Political columnist Barry Rascovar appears to disagree about the extent of Brown’s involvement in the health care website rollout, calling the lieutenant governor “a second banana” to Gov. Martin O’Malley. Brown’s role is “symbolic, not substantive”  and he’s “avoided tough-questioning reporters and responded only in a few choreographed situations,” the columnist writes.

The failures expose a vulnerability in Brown’s campaign and “his future depends in large measure on O’Malley’s ability to find a way out of this healthcare debacle,” according to Rascovar.

And with the primary set for late June, both the Brown and Gansler campaigns may be anxious to see how fast those fixes can be enacted.

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