Smith: Gansler Biding His Time, Reshaping Image

May 16, 2013

The “take” on Attorney Gen. Doug Gansler begins with “hungry” and moves on quickly to “fire in the belly;” raging fire. He wants to be governor of Maryland, doesn’t he? Hasn’t he wanted it for years? He’s wanted it almost too much: something about the danger that comes with a lean and hungry look.

Nothing wrong with ambition, mind you. But you can’t be constantly looking to the next job. People might think you’re a careerist and driven by self more than by a desire to serve people. So, as Attorney General Gansler, you more or less lay low. You try to re-brand yourself. It’s not surprising to find Gansler demurring even more sincerely than most ambitious candidates when asked about running. He loves the job he has, he says. He might consider another term as AG. So many compelling cases. Such importance for the state he loves.

He told The Daily Record he might wait until fall to decide – or to announce his decision. That might work well on the new image front. He may think he can afford it with his big lead in the race for campaign funds. At the same time, he has to be wary. One of his Democratic primary opponents, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown, may be on the verge of forming a ticket, running with Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. Ulman has money in the bank and access to more. He’s chair of an important statewide organization of local government leaders. He would improve Brown’s prospects. 

Brown has been agile and smart about this. He’s made an early, eye-catching move. Ulman hasn’t committed. But his name is out there for the activists to conjure with. If the Ulman choice plays well as a trial balloon, it will attract more money.

Sooner or later –probably sooner – Doug Gansler has to go with whatever new image he’s got.    Your comments are welcome at fsmith@wypr.org.