Maryland Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates and their Policies

This post was originally written for and was tailored to women in business. I have reworked the post here as more of an informational/opinion piece. To see the original (with more logistical info on voting as well), check it out here.

The Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary is in a matter of weeks. Maryland is heavily Democratic. It is safe to say that the candidate who wins this primary will likely be Maryland’s next governor. So…it’s kind of a big deal. Not to mention, how potentially historic the outcome can be. The candidate most favored to win at the moment, and Governor O’Malley’s pick as his successor, would be the first African-American governor of Maryland. While another candidate would be the first female AND first openly gay governor of Maryland.

The three Democratic gubernatorial candidates are Attorney General Doug Gansler, Delegate Heather Mizeur, and Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown. Below is a brief summary of where each candidate stands on issues, particularly affecting women. I stuck with their most concrete positions and gave a general rundown for comparison. As politicians are wont to do, they have all given lip service in one way or another regarding these issues, but here are specific policies they have each proposed.

Maryland’s minimum wage is now set to increase to $10.10 by 2018. But some candidates feel this is not sufficient. Brown supports O’Malley’s increase. Similarly, Gansler would like minimum wage to increase to at least $10 by 2015. Mizeur, however, would want all non-tipped workers to earn $16.70 per hour by 2022, with tipped workers earning 70 percent of non-tipped wages. All three candidates agree on indexing future wages to inflation. Also of note, Mizeur wants to make earned sick and safe leave available to all Maryland workers and institute a State Paycheck Fairness Act to help close the gender wage gap. Brown wants to expand vouchers for childcare.

As for taxes, Brown “does not see the need in the foreseeable future to raise taxes” but does see the need for comprehensive tax reform, whatever that means. Gansler, however, wants to gradually lower the corporate income tax by .25%, but close corporate tax loopholes. He also wants to increase the state’s estate tax exemption to match federal law. Mizeur is by far the most progressive on taxes, pledging to establish a “millionaire’s tax” and cut taxes for 90% of Marylanders and close corporate loopholes. She also plans to reverse the current estate tax break. I am not a fan of raising taxes on millionaires and definitely not a fan of the estate tax. I think it’s bullshit. So I guess you can call me fiscally conservative. I love Mizeur’s passion, and I love a lot of what she stands for, but I feel she goes too far into the idealistic/populist view that could hurt small businesses. But perhaps a more measured, less progressive approach would only lead to the status quo. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

On small businesses Mizeur wants to give small businesses tax rebates. Gansler wants to establish “adolescence funding” to help young businesses continue to grow as well as tax credits for job creation. He also wants to offer manufacturing start-ups a two-year tax free period in exchange for a pledge to stay in the state for at least five years. Brown has a list of “areas of focus” to establish a more competitive business climate, all of which sound great, though vague.

On education. On the topic of teacher pay specifically, Brown wants to complete the adequacy funding study required under the Bridge to Excellence Act. Gansler wants to keep teachers’ benefits and pensions secure as well as give teachers serving in challenged schools an extra state tax credit. Mizeur wants to reconvene a 2002 commission to upgrade improvements to the educational system and teacher salaries. All three candidates want to provide some form of universal pre-k. Brown and Gansler would use gaming revenue. Mizeur would use revenue from legalizing and taxing marijuana (which I am all for.)

On issues of domestic violence. This is Brown’s big issue. I’d say he’s cornered the market on this topic. He recently lost a cousin to domestic violence and takes this issue personally. Brown has several initiatives planned to combat domestic violence in Maryland, which are too numerous to go into here. His campaign site details his “Path to Zero” here. Mizeur would require the removal of firearms from homes where there is a reason to suspect domestic abuse. Though Gansler has shown a history of working on domestic violence issues, there seem to be no clear policies being put forth for the governor’s seat at this time.

In the first debate, I was most impressed with Mizeur’s professionalism and ability to stay above the fray, bringing the important topics back up, and practically calling Brown and Gansler out for bickering and spending more time on the Redskins than issues that really matter. I met Mizeur at a neighborhood event about a year ago, and I found her to be truly passionate about making a positive change. She is a total wonk. I was extremely impressed with the way she carried herself and the depth of her knowledge (as far as I could tell!) She’s passionate about social justice issues and closing the inequality gap.

I’m pretty torn over this race. But will probably be decently happy with either one. Feel free to leave your comments on who you like and why!

Also, I’ll be doing another post shortly on the Republican candidates. That is sure to be interesting. One word: crazycakes!

For more information and comparisons between the candidates, including other topics (environment, energy, economic diversification, marijuana, and the Maryland Health Exchange), this site is a useful resource.

More nuanced information can be found here and at their respective websites (which also include more information including the usual vague promises and goals all politicians love to express) –Brown, Mizeur, Gansler. Have at it!

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