Democrat Anthony G. Brown took the stage at a Democratic unity event Thursday night and planted a kiss squarely on his former political rival, Del. Heather Mizeur.
It was, after all, a “kiss and make up” party to mend the wounds from the long and acrimonious Democratic primary, which ended in Brown’s landslide victory Tuesday night.
The candidates who had the most making up to do, however, never shared the stage.
Mizeur ran zero negative ads and made a point to stay positive throughout the campaign and debates. (She joked that she had only kissing to do.)
But Brown and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler engaged in months of high-profile public fighting and nearly a year of behind-the-scenes friction between their two camps.
Gansler did not show up as organizers said he would. In a text message, Gansler told The Baltimore Sun he had family obligations that kept him from the Montgomery County event thrown after every gubernatorial primary.
“We thought he was going to be here,” said organizer Beth Tomasello, president of the Women’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County. “There must have been some miscommunication.”
Even in Gansler’s absence, Brown praised him for a “hard-fought” campaign and his leadership on the environment and legalizing same-sex marriage.
“I look forward to working with Doug on his ideas, particularly on improving Maryland’s business climate,” Brown said.
It was a tone markedly different from Brown’s campaign literature that criticized Gansler’s plan to lower the corporate tax rate as a “$1.6 billion giveaway.”
Brown reserved most of his praise for the woman sharing the stage with him in a Rockville Hilton, calling Mizeur “a phenomenal public servant.”
“She has galvanized a true progressive movement in the Democratic Party here in Maryland,” Brown said, going on to describe the two-term delegate from Takoma Park as “an extraordinary leader.”
Mizeur told the crowd her campaign showed “there is a hunger in Maryland for all candidates to remain positive” a pledged “our full support behind Anthony Brown.”
“We are one big party, and we all same the same values,” she said.
The event was a who’s-who of Montgomery County’s political elite, who rallied the crowd with promises to work together against Republicans.
The event drew Reps. Chris Van Hollen and John Delaney; Comptroller Peter A. Franchot; Treasurer Nancy Kopp, Sen. Brian Frosh, who won Tuesday’s primary nomination for the attorney general, Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett.
And, Gansler’s mother, Alison Gansler, who has long been active in Montgomery County politics.
Mizeur had what appeared to be a friendly chat with Alison Gansler after the event. Brown also introduced himself, gave her a polite handshake and made a little small talk. “You must be tired,” she said.