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Barack Obama
President Barack Obama campaigns for Maryland Gubernatorial Democrat candidate Lt. Governor Anthony Brown at an Early Vote Rally at Dr. Henry Wise High School in Upper Marlboro, Md., Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Obama rallies for Brown in Maryland

UPPER MARLBORO — President Barack Obama urged Maryland residents on Sunday to fight for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown for governor at the polls.

Obama attended a rally for Brown in Prince George’s County, where more than 9,000 people came to hear the president in a crowded gym at Wise High School. Obama said Brown is running to make investments in things that benefit everyone. He cited Brown’s goal of creating voluntary pre-kindergarten for all Maryland children by the end of his first term.

“Anthony Brown has devoted his life to fighting for you,” Obama said. “You now need to fight for him.”

Brown, a Democrat who served in the Army and the reserves for 30 years, noted that only one in four Prince George’s County voters turned out to vote in June’s primary, and he and his running mate, Ken Ulman, need their help.

“Ken and I can’t do it alone. We’re going to need each and every one of you,” Brown told a cheering audience.

Prince George’s County is about 65 percent black and is Brown’s home base. The county is a key for Brown to win the governorship in a state with a black population of about 30 percent. Prince George’s is one of the state’s biggest counties, with 510,000 eligible voters — 442,639 of them Democrats.

With 16 days before Election Day, Gov. Martin O’Malley and members of Maryland’s congressional also attended the rally to urge voters to the polls, as early voting begins on Thursday.

In a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1, Rep. Steny Hoyer said it was still critical for Democrats to turn out.

“The only way that they’re not going to be the governor and lieutenant governor is if we don’t show up,” said Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat in Washington.

Brown is running against Republican Larry Hogan, who also has been campaigning in Prince George’s. He has largely been focused on economic issues, specifically tax increases approved during O’Malley’s tenure.

“As governor, Larry Hogan will work in a bipartisan manner to roll back these tax hikes so Marylanders can keep more of their hard earned money,” said Adam Dubitsky, a spokesman for Hogan’s campaign.

Hogan also is getting some high-profile support: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, will make his second fundraising appearance Tuesday for Hogan. Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge has a fundraiser scheduled Monday.

While Obama is a political drag in many other states, his approval ratings remain higher in the blue state of Maryland. The first African-American president’s visit should be a boost for Brown, who would become Maryland’s first black governor if elected in November.

Voter turnout in 2008, when Obama was elected, was 78 percent in Maryland and about 77 percent in Prince George’s. Obama won roughly nine out of every 10 votes in Prince George’s in 2008.

A poll by The Washington Post released earlier this month showed Brown leading Hogan by 9 percentage points, 47 percent to 38 percent among likely voters, with 11 percent undecided. The margin of error for registered voters was plus or minus 4 percentage points and 5 percentage points for likely voters.