The three-way race for the Democratic nod to become Maryland's next governor continues to build steam, with Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery Co.) and Attorney General Doug Gansler seeking to establish themselves as legitimate contenders for their party's nomination against presumed frontrunner Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who has been endorsed by sitting Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).
In a Tuesday press release, Mizeur's campaign announced it had received the endorsement of former U.S. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Kennedyville), an Eastern Shore legislator who established a reputation during his nine terms in Congress from 1991 to 2009 as a moderate Republican who sought bipartisan compromises and held more liberal views on issues like the environment, abortion and marriage equality.
This is not Gilchrest's first time issuing a cross-party endorsement. He also endorsed former U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil, a Democrat, for his seat in Congress after being defeated by current U.S. Rep. Andy Harris in the 2008 Republican primary. Kratovil went on to win the seat, serving from 2009 to 2011. Gilchrest also spoke favorably of the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden while criticizing the campaign of Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign. He later told TV station WBAL-TV in a 2009 interview that he had voted for Obama.
"I'm proud to endorse Heather Mizeur for Governor," Gilchrest said in a statement. "She's the best choice for the Eastern Shore, and for all of Maryland. No one will fight harder to protect the Chesapeake Bay than Heather. No on else will bring Maryland together, regardless of what differences we may face, to take on our toughest challenges."
Mizeur was also endorsed by a mix of five current and former Eastrn Shore officials: Chestertown Mayor Margo Bailey, Salisbury City Councilmember Laura Mitchell, Chesapeake City Councilmember Harry Sampson, Easton Town Councilmember Megan Cook, and former Queen Anne's County Commissioner Carol Fordonski.
Mizeur's Eastern Shore endorsements come less than a week after earning the endorsment of 10 municipal leaders from Prince George's County. She earned endorsements last month from 12 muncipal leaders from her home base of Montgomery County, as well as Baltimore City Councilmember Mary Pat Clarke, Baltimore's ReWired for Change CEO Sonja Sohn and the Rev. Delman Coates of the Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., who helped advocate for the passage of marriage equality in the state. Mizeur's endorsements from local officials have been in keeping with her lower-key style of campaigning, seeking to build momentum across different regions of the Free State, trying to challenge Gansler in vote-rich Montgomery County and Brown in his home base of Prince George's, the state's second most populous county, while establishing herself as an alternative to both men in the Baltimore, Western and Eastern Shore regions, where neither her opponents nor their running mates have a strong foothold.
In contrast to Mizeur's fly-beneath-the-radar approach, Gansler announced at a public rally in Beltsville, Md., on Monday that he had selected Del. Jolene Ivey (D-Prince George's Co.), a legislative ally of the LGBT community and one of the few African-American women legislators from Prince George's to vote in favor of marriage-equality legislation, as his choice for lieutenant govenor. Ivey, a mother of five boys and the wife of Glenn Ivey, a past state's attorney for Prince George's County, is a former journalist and press secretary for U.S. Rep. (now current U.S. Senator) Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and a co-founder of Mocha Moms Inc., a support group for stay-at-home mothers of color. She was first elected to the House of Delegates in 2006.
In his speech introducing Ivey as his running mate, Gansler said, "This lieutenant governor understands in her heart and in her soul what it means to stand for human dignity and fairness, and she will take on discrimination and bias and hate and sexism and homophobia in all its forms."
[Photo: Heather Mizeur. Credit: Mizeur for Governor campaign.]