Former Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, who served from 2007 to 2015, officially announced Tuesday that he will again seek the Democratic nomination for governor next year.
Gansler, 58, said in an interview Tuesday his 23 years of experience in county and state government make him the best candidate to boost the economy, erase racial inequities and implement universal pre-kindergarten.
“We had eight years of a Republican governor in the most Democratic state in the country,” he said of current Gov. Larry Hogan, who is term-limited and leaves office in January 2023. “I’m the only person in the governor’s race from either party that has the experience, a record of progressive leadership of getting things done and can win the general election.”
Prior to being the state’s top prosecutor, Gansler served two terms in his native Montgomery County as state’s attorney that included the launch of drug courts and creation of a specialized domestic-violence docket.
In a campaign video released Tuesday titled, “Not a Moment to Waste,” the Yale-educated lawyer called for using 100% clean energy to improve the environment and legalizing and taxing cannabis to help pay for universal pre-kindergarten. He also pointed out that he supported same-sex marriage during his time as attorney general.
Gansler said in the video that the experience of losing the 2014 gubernatorial race “was very humbling … [and] let me be more thoughtful about what Marylanders need right now.”
Gansler went against Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Maryland), the state’s lieutenant governor at that time, and then-Del. Heather Mizeur.
Brown received more than 50% of the vote and Gansler came in second at 24%.
Gansler’s campaign took several hits early. Shortly after declaring his bid in September 2013, reports surfaced that he ordered state police drivers to speed and run red lights to get him to certain appointments on time, though he denied doing so. Weeks later, a photo of him at a Delaware house party with underage drinking was made public. The Baltimore Sun reported he stopped there to speak with his son, but didn’t intervene.
During his time away from the public sector, Gansler serves on the advisory board of College Track, which aims to help first-generation and minority high school students to attend college. The organization has received support from NBA superstar and Prince George’s County native Kevin Durant.
The father of two adult sons, Gansler works as a partner for Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in northwest D.C.
On the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Gansler said police reform remains a priority, citing work he conducted more than 20 years ago.
He said there should be an independent assessment for every Maryland law enforcement agency so that each department receives sensitivity and cultural training that reflects “the diversity of the community.”
Gansler also advocates making sure the Baltimore-Washington area’s mass transit systems are fully funded in order to relieve vehicular traffic and protect the environment.
“No one wants their blood pressure going up sitting in traffic,” he said. “It’s a lifestyle thing, but it’s also an environmental thing.”
Gansler joins several other Democrats seeking the nomination, including state Comptroller Peter Franchot, who became the first person to throw his hat in the ring last year.
Former Obama administration officials Ashwani Jain and John King Jr., both of Montgomery County, have also declared their candidacies.
Other possible contenders include former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III and former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.
Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz, who resides in Frederick County, on April 14 became the first Republican candidate to announce a gubernatorial bid.
Although Maryland is a heavily Democratic state, Republicans have won the governor’s seat in three of the last five gubernatorial races.