Republican gubernatorial candidates David Craig, from left, Ron George, Larry Hogan and Charles Lollar wait for a Republican gubernatorial primary debate to begin at Maryland Public Television's studios in Owings Mills, Md., Monday, June 2, 2014.
For the first time this century, Bob Ehrlich will not be the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Maryland. Instead, four candidates are squaring off to secure the Republican nod ahead of next week's June 24 primary. Yesterday we profiled Larry Hogan and Charles Lollar, and today we look at David Craig and Ron George.
David Craig looked like the frontrunner when he entered the race last year, but recent polls show him behind Hogan, who didn't formally enter the race until this year. To catch up, Craig has been touting his long record of public service, a record that includes stints as county executive, delegate, state senator, mayor, and decades as a school teacher.
Taxes, namely the ones increased during current Gov. Martin O'Malley's tenure, are the main topic in the GOP primary. Craig pushed his plan to end the state's personal income tax during a recent debate on NBC4.
"The failure in the state is not true in Harford County. We've been successful because we lowered our property taxes, which is the main tax. We have over 100 manufacturers and 8,000 jobs move in. The tax that really affects everyone is the income tax... and we will phase that out," he said.
Delegate Ron George wants to cut the income tax too, but says the plans his three opponents have put out are irresponsible because of slow job growth, and that his strikes the right balance.
"We have 73,000 [fewer] jobs than when the recession began. My plan is [an immediate] 10-percent income tax cut. The papers keep abbreviating that and makes it seem like that's all I'll do. I'm going to roll back a lot of these tax increases... beginning with that one," he says.
Maryland's new gun laws are another hot issue in the Republican primary. George thinks it will be possible to repeal the law even though it's certain that Democrats who supported it will still control both branches of the General Assembly next year.
"I will repeal those things. I'm a jewelry store owner. I'm a target. If I feel threatened... I shouldn't have to wait several weeks to get a gun," he says.
Craig believes his experience will allow him to repeal the law too, despite party politics.
"We came out very early in support of 'concealed carry' and in favor of 'shall issue.' We do have the experience... I'm the only one who has served in the House and Senate. And I will know how to get that repealed," he argues.
Winning in the fall will be tough for the Republican nominee given the Democratic edge in voter registration. Ehrlich did so in 2002, the first GOP winner in more than 30 years — but then lost the next two elections to O'Malley.
To compare the candidates and print out a ballot for the June 24 primary, visit WAMU.org/Vote.