Is this Heather Mizeur’s Primary to Lose?

I bet that title got your attention, but I do in all seriousness believe that Montgomery County Delegate Heather Mizeur might very well be in the driver’s seat in the Democratic Primary.

The conventional wisdom for the last three years is that one of the two presumed front-runners, Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Attorney General Doug Gansler, would be the Democratic nominee for Governor. Brown had all the trappings and benefits of incumbency, while Gansler had the $5 million war chest he was able to keep after the Maryland GOP’s bad idea of giving him a free pass in his 2010 re-election campaign.

But it’s starting to look like the conventional wisdom is all wrong.

There are two very distinct and very important things that have become apparent about the two front-runners:

  • Anthony Brown is No Leader: One of the knocks against Anthony Brown in this race has been his inability to point to any successes or accomplishments in public office. It isn’t exactly like his reputation has been changed in a positive manner in that regard over the health care issue, as the Obamacare Exchange situation keeps rolling from one disaster to another. Between the hundreds of millions of dollars and his extraordinary efforts to avoid scrutiny on his failure to lead, and it is becoming apparent that Anthony Brown isn’t up to the task of being Governor. And don’t forget this nugget from last summer, when I wrote about Brown and said that he was on the verge becoming KKT 2.0 with his inability to articulate his thoughts about issues.
  • Doug Gansler is Out of Control: Doug Gansler is trying to run simultaneously against the O’Malley tax and spend record and on his left-leaning bona fides. That’s all well and good and a smart strategy. Sure his had a misstep when he came out in favor of reducing barriers to corruption, but that’s not where Gansler has his problems. He is completely out of control when it comes to everything that isn’t related to policy. Reckless Driving? Teenage booze parties at the ocean? And the latest own goal by the Gansler campaign, where Gansler himself implied that Lt. Governor Brown’s service in Iraq wasn’t a “real job.” Gansler’s worst enemy right now is himself, and with so little time between now and the primary his inability to avoid traps laid for him is going to hurt.
Let’s not forget that Brown and Gansler have been in an arms race for years getting ready to go after each other. The Brown campaign was prepared to play hardball, and you bet Gansler is too. But what makes this race so interesting is the reactions the Gansler and Brown campaigns have had to recent events. Gansler’s team seemed to be ecstatic about polling numbers that showed a decrease in Brown’s numbers with little increase in his own. At the same time Jeff Quinton has reported that the Brown campaign is in panic mode right now. And calm campaigns don’t troll Craigslist for paid volunteers as Jackie Wellfonder reported on this afternoon.

And all of this makes me wonder if this is Heather Mizeur’s race to lose. Like her and her ideas or not, her and her campaign have stayed above the fray when it comes to the negative campaigning and her focus has solely been on drawing attention to her campaign and drawing attention to her issues. Those issues put her very much in line with the hardcore Democratic base, the voters who are most likely to show up on June 24th. She has been performing ably at the various debates and forums and, by taking the public financing option, she’ll at least be able to raise enough money to do some mass media ads closer to the election, at probably the exact time that Democratic primary voters will have had enough of the Brown and Gansler pissing contest and will be looking at something new.

Some of you are probably thinking it is far-fetched to think of Mizeur as something of a front-runner, but is it? This gubernatorial primary is shaping up a lot like the 2006 Democratic Comptroller primary was. Recall that the race, at the time, was between incumbent Comptroller William Donald Schaefer and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens. And the Schaefer-Owens fight kept getting nastier and nastier as we got closer to the primary. Everybody assumed (wrongly) that one of those two were going to survive the primary. However it was the third candidate, the far-left candidate from Takoma Park, that won with only 36.5% of the vote. And that’s how Peter Franchot became Comptroller.

The similarity between the two elections are very real, and so far it seems like Mizeur’s campaign has been following that playbook.

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Mizeur as the potential Democratic nominee is a real thing. It could really happen. And it would be a great thing for Republicans, as Heather Mizeur is radically out of the mainstream on pretty much every issue imaginable, from taxes to energy policy to her unconscionable support of abortion on demand and assisted suicide. But whatever you do, don’t act surprised to wake up to it on June 25th.

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