Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown is jeopardizing what is expected to be an historic run for Governor by failing to meet and attend important events within the African American community. In just the last two weeks, Brown has drawn the ire of African American Pastors and several other business groups by failing to attend or backing out of scheduled events.
Brown had promised pastors of the National Baptist Convention DC & Vicinity which represents more than 200 churches and 20,000 members in the Prince George’s and Baltimore that he would attend, but last week he informed group members that he would not be able to attend. There are reports that he did the same to the Maryland Black Caucus which is holding its annual convention in the next two weeks.
“A lot of pastors are upset,” said Rev. Charles W. McNeill, Jr., Vice President of the National Baptist Convention DC & Vicinity and head of the National Black Church Initiative. “ Not only did he stand us up for this event, but I understand there are other events that he failed to show up to with no explanation. That doesn’t sound like a candidate who wants or needs our support.”
Those who know the Lt. Governor well and have worked with him in the past says it is a troubling pattern that he has maintained since reaching the highest levels of state government some eight years ago. Other detractors say his failure to appear at community events in the African American community has exacerbated a reputation that makes some suspect of his candidacy. Further, some black leaders say, he hasn’t brought much bacon home to Prince George’s County despite beginning his political career in District Heights.
“I have known Anthony Brown for quite some time,” said Joe Gaskins, a political operative and businessman from Prince George’s County. “It’s always the same old story when it comes to the black community. He puts us on the backburner. Black voters don’t seem to be his priority. He just assumes that people are going to vote for him because of the color of his skin. In this election, I don’t think that is going to be the case because people really don’t know him and there are another group of people who he has offended. Those are fences that must be mended or he is going to have a major problem come election day.”
Brown’s primary opposition Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler meanwhile has worked hard to gain traction with African Americans in Prince George’s County because of promises to build a law school at historically black Bowie State University and to provide more support for minority businesses and African American youth who are caught up in the legal system because of an inherent bias in the adjudication process.
“The Lt. Governor has a serious problem that he may not be able to overcome,” said Community Activist Mike Jones. “It as if he expects people to vote for him just because he is black and that is hardly the case. Right now, a lot of folk view him as the establishment candidate. There are even more people who don’t know him and don’t trust him. That’s a bad combination for a African American candidate who is looking to make history.”