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The Nose

The Gansler Dance

Office of the Attorney General
Doug Gansler

Posted 4/28/2010

Maryland's attorney general, Doug Gansler (D), has kept pretty damn quiet since he was first elected four years ago. His reticence is in marked contrast to his high-profile style as the Montgomery County state's attorney, his prior elected office, where he was an inveterate press hog. And his expected head-butting with Gov. Martin O'Malley--also first elected in 2006, and also an uppity pretty boy with overweening ambition--hasn't materialized, much to the Nose's disappointment. Gansler must be biding his time for O'Malley to be term-limited out of office in 2014 before the AG goes for the Governor's Mansion.

While reserved, Gansler hasn't been moribund. He made some waves this year by calling for an end to judicial elections and by issuing a pro-same-sex-marriage opinion, which drew a reactionary call from the hard Right for his impeachment. But one of the main planks of his 2006 campaign--prompting the Maryland General Assembly to pass a state Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) act, which would allow prosecutors to go after criminal gangs for what they are--has gone nowhere. Rather than the surgical instrument that a state RICO act would provide, the legislature instead has debated and passed clumsy, constitutionally dubious anti-gang laws that promise to be hard to enforce.

In the meantime, for this year's election, the Nose notes that Gansler is sitting on some serious bank, and with nary a challenger in sight. Friends of Doug Gansler, his campaign committee, is flush with nearly $2.1 million, after raising $863,000 in 2009, according to state elections records. It's less than half of the $4.8 million O'Malley's committee has on hand, but it's a heck of a lot more than $180,000 the prior attorney general, J. Joseph Curran, had readied for his last re-election bid in 2002, which also was virtually unchallenged.

Gansler's a MoCo boy, and his fundraising play in Baltimore reflects Mobtown's relative unfamiliarity with the state's chief consigliere. Only about 10 percent of what Gansler's committee raised in 2009 came from 115 Baltimore donations (including $50 from Old Man Curran). The top donors, giving the maximum allowable amount of $4,000, are local titans in the fields of real estate, healthcare, software, and the law.

Despite Baltimore's diminutive clout in Gansler's statewide world, the man's making an appearance in town on Monday, May 3, at 6 p.m., at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore, located at Charles and Franklin streets. Hosting is the Baltimore Democratic Forum, the upstart organization that rose from the ashes of the recently demised Mount Royal Democratic Club, and which bills itself as "designed to encourage intelligent participation in the political process and improve dialogue between voters and their appointed and elected officials." The BDF's flyer says Gansler is slated to speak of legal issues involving same-sex marriages, healthcare, and immigration.

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Tags: doug gansler, martin o_malley, rico, gay marriage, baltimore democratic forum

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