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Baltimore OUTloud: Endorsements: Heather Mizeur for Governor

When the campaign to replace Governor Martin O’Malley began last year, we assumed that we would be choosing between Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Attorney General Douglas Gansler. Both are mainstream Democrats with solid records of support for LGBT communities. We were aware of another announced candidate in the Democratic primary, twice-elected member of the House of Delegates from Montgomery County Heather Mizeur, a progressive who also happens to be a lesbian. We considered her run quixotic, and worthy of little attention. But what a difference a campaign can make! Delegate Mizeur and her running mate, Delmun Coates, have run a positive, thoughtful campaign, articulated a strong, progressive future for the State and earned our enthusiastic endorsement for Governor and Lt. Governor.

Mizeur’s positions on jobs, the economy, education, health care, the environment, and public safety reveal a candidate with a deep understanding of the problems that face our state. A unifying theme of her platform is the critical need to address economic inequality and expand opportunities for poor and working families. She has proposed universal pre-k, marijuana legalization, student loan reform, higher taxes on the top incomes, and closing corporate tax loopholes. At the same time she wants to reduce the tax burden on working families and small businesses. These are all sensible positions that we support but what makes us so enthusiastic about her candidacy is not this laundry list of progressive positions. Rather, it is the thoroughly considered way that she would implement and pay for them. For instance, universal pre-k will be paid for with taxes earned though marijuana legalization. Tax breaks for average families and small businesses will be financed with a tax on top wage earners and closing a corporate tax loophole that only favors very large corporations.

Closing the corporate tax loophole is a matter of fairness for Maryland small and mid-size businesses but Mizeur’s revenue neutral proposal to tweak the tax brackets of Maryland’s somewhat regressive income tax will positively impact poor and middle income families in a very direct way by putting more money in their pockets. Coupling her tax policy with her plans to require all employers to offer some paid sick leave, and to link the state’s minimum wage to a living wage of $16.70 an hour by 2022, will have a huge impact on average people and shows that a Governor Mizeur will be a champion for poor and working families.

Mizeur’s jobs policy reflects her awareness that economic opportunity for average citizens requires a plan that supports small businesses, encourages innovation, and reforms regulations so that all businesses, big and small, have an opportunity to succeed. She proposes streamlining regulations and eliminating those that are no longer needed. To accomplish this, she will establish a cabinet level position of Business Advocate to investigate complaints and receive suggestions from the business community and the public. In addition, she will promote economic growth and opportunities by expanding support for business generated job-training programs, encouraging Maryland’s research universities to focus on economically viable job-creating research, and making the State a leader in renewable energy and cyber security.

We have no doubt that the lt. governor and the attorney general would be fine governors. True, the attorney general has proposed a dubious corporate tax cut and the lt. governor took the lead in Maryland’s disastrous rollout of health care reform. Both men have stooped to negative campaigning, a common tactic that we find very disappointing. But overall, both have taken positions that make sense--expanded pre-k education, solid support for Obamacare, recognition that the criminal justice system needs to be reformed to stop the revolving door of incarceration, for instance. And the lt. governor’s positions reflect the cautious approach of a man who knows what is possible in Annapolis. However, when looking at the candidates’ entire platforms, neither the lt. governor nor the attorney general has presented a vision for the next four years that matches Delegate Mizeur’s laser focus on helping working families.

We would never endorse a candidate solely because of the person’s sexual orientation and our support for Mizeur is grounded firmly in her cohesive economic, education, and social justice positions that envisions a more just and fairer Maryland. However, because Mizeur is a Lesbian, she brings an added understanding of our communities that should bode well for LGBT people. We know that she is the underdog but she has run such an impressive campaign and articulated such a positive vision for the future that we whole heartedly recommend her to be the next Governor of the State of Maryland.