This Wednesday night from 6-7pm, District 18 Delegate Candidate Natali Fani-González is hosting a meet-and-greet (not a fundraiser) for Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor.
Attorney General Doug Gansler, one of Brown’s competitors, went to elementary school in the district. Much of it should be considered his home turf, as he is well-known and has deep roots in the area, though he now lives in adjoining District 16.
Sen. Rich Madaleno, Del. Al Carr, and Del. Ana Sol Gutiérrez have endorsed Gansler. Del. Jeff Waldstreicher originally planned to support Gansler but shifted his support to Brown–a step that received more attention than usual as Gansler included him on a list of supporters because he thought he still had his support.
While Fani-González has not announced an endorsement from Brown, it would not be at odds with talk of competing slates allied with either Brown or Gansler in other districts. This could be a tad awkward for Waldstreicher as he is on a team with the other incumbents who have endorsed Gansler.
For Brown, it could be a promising way to build alliances and support in District 18 and also with Fani-González, who is active and works in politics and a variety of Democratic causes. She has the potential to continue to rise regardless of the outcome of this race.
On the other hand, if Brown expects to become Governor, he wants to maintain good relations with legislators who might not appreciate his support for a challenger. Of course, they will also need to repair relationships if he wins, so it’s a complicated relationship that works both ways, especially since Maryland’s governor is very powerful.
There is also some risk attached for Fani-González because her link with Brown might not thrill Gansler supporters. Nevertheless, she has far more to gain from an endorsement from a statewide figure of Brown’s stature even if two incumbents have been endorsed by Gansler who should do well in D18.
On a similar note, Candidate Liz Matory has received support from former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke. Both are major figures with Wilder holding a particular place of honor as the first African-American governor in modern times. I am not sure how much weight either carry in District 18, though they could help her gain African-American support if communicated to voters.
And the value and the communication of endorsements are really the keys. They just don’t matter if the voters don’t know about them. And, of course, the voter has to value the endorser’s opinion in order for it work as a signal or cue to voters.
No doubt more to come as the session comes to end and primaries continue to heat up.