Prince Georgians are still reeling after Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown’s (D) loss to Anne Arundel businessman Larry Hogan (R) in the Nov. 4 general election for governor. There is a buzz that Brown’s loss was a sign of a poor voter turnout and a disconnected Black electorate.
Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown concedes to Gov.-elect Larry Hogan during an election night gathering Nov. 5 in College Park, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Brown decisively won Prince George’s County, where he resides, 184, 950 to 32, 619, but turnout was 38 percent as opposed to 2010’s 47 percent. Brown came up short in the White-populated counties and as a result, Maryland elected Hogan, its second Republican governor, in a decade.
“It is so sad that he lost,” said former Maryland State Sen. Tommie Broadwater, the first African American elected to the General Assembly’s upper chamber from Prince George’s County. “A lot of people thought that Anthony had it in the bag. A lot of people, particularly young people, did not take the race seriously.”
Broadwater said that more work should have been done by grassroots leaders to get people to the polls. “Hogan’s people turned out for him,” Broadwater said. “Brown losing the election was not good because we missed a great opportunity to have a governor from Prince George’s County.”
Howard University political scientist Michael Fauntroy said that there was a good reason why Prince Georgians did not storm the polls for the Democratic gubernatorial nominee. “Anthony Brown didn’t inspire people to come out to vote for him,” Fauntroy said. “It looks like Brown did not tend to his base. There was no real get-out-the-vote effort on his behalf and that is why he should have worked to get Prince Georgians and Blacks to the polls.”
Emma Andrews, who along with her husband Harry are public education activists, said that Brown is not completely to blame. “So many people are not involved in the political and civic process,” Andrews said. “They don’t know their elected leaders and only go to them when there is a crisis.”
Andrews said that the lack of political engagement in the county hurt Brown just as much as a dismal turnout. “They don’t think politics is a priority,” she said. “I worked the polls on Election Day and I was surprised at how many people didn’t know the legislative district they reside in.”
If Brown had won the election, he would have been not only Maryland’s first Black governor but the country’s third elected Black governor. Douglas Wilder was elected governor of Virginia in 1989 and served until 1993 and voters in Massachusetts made Deval Patrick its governor in 2006 and he will leave office in January 2015.
Paul Brathwaite, a former executive director for the Congressional Black Caucus, said that Brown’s election could have been beneficial to African Americans nationally.
“It is always important to have diversity at the gubernatorial level, it be female, Black or Hispanic governors,” Brathwaite said. “It is more than just symbolism, it is substance. Brown could have talked about issues regarding Blacks at meetings of the Democratic Governors Association and National Governors Association.”
Nevertheless, some Prince Georgians point the finger at Brown for his defeat. “I have known Anthony Brown for years and he, as lieutenant governor, did absolutely nothing for Black businesses in the county,” said Joseph Gaskins, the chairman of the Prince George’s County Contractors Association. “During the campaign, he did not keep his engagements in the Black community and he shunned Black churches. Larry Hogan reached out to county Black businesses and he has listened to us, though.”
Belinda Queen-Howard, a member of the Prince George’s County Democratic Central Committee, said that Brown waited until the last minute to campaign. She also senses that there was a covert attempt to undermine Brown. “There may have been some people high up in the Democratic Party that didn’t want to see him win,” she said.
Broadwater agreed. “Conservative Democrats didn’t want him to win,” he said. “They did not come out to vote or they voted the other way.”
Brathwaite is confident that Brown has a political future. “I think that his days of public service are far from over,” he said. “I could see him run for governor again or maybe for the U.S. Senate.”
However, Queen-Howard thinks that it is time for new leaders. “It is time for a woman to run and win a statewide office,” she said.