Monday, August 11, 2008

An Interest in Doug Gansler

By Marc Korman.

PolitickerMD took a great interest in Attorney General Doug Gansler’s political future last week. On Thursday, they ran a story about the AG’s difficulties with the Maryland Farm Bureau. On Friday, they not so subtly speculated that John Edwards’ indiscretions could advance Gansler’s chances of becoming US Attorney General if Barack Obama is elected.

Everyone can agree that the AG should work out his legal issues with the Farm Bureau, which based on the PolitickerMD article may really be limited to a misunderstanding about what information on farm practices is being publicly released. But does the conflict have any bearing on Gansler’s political future? To my surprise, of the sixty candidates I could identify that the Maryland Farm Bureau donated to during the 2006 cycle, half were Democrats and half were Republicans. I was unable to identify the other five candidates’ party affiliation. However, Farm Bureaus around the country tend to lean Republican and Maryland is no exception. The group endorsed Governor Ehrlich in 2002 and 2006. Farm Bureau politics probably have little to do with Gansler’s political future.

As for becoming the next US Attorney General, there is a lot of precedence for Marylanders to hold the office and Gansler was an early supporter of Obama’s. Of the eighty-one AGs in the nation’s history, seven are either Maryland natives or had significant work experience here. The most famous was Roger Taney, who served as Andrew Jackson’s Attorney General before he was appointed to the Supreme Court, where he authored the infamous Dred Scott decision.

Unfortunately for Gansler, only two state AGs since 1901 have gone on to serve as US Attorney General. William Bart Saxbe was one of President Nixon’s four Attorneys General and previously served as the Attorney General in Ohio. John Ashcroft was President George W. Bush’s first AG and had previously been Missouri’s Attorney General. Unfortunately for Mr. Gansler, neither was appointed directly from their state AG post to the Cabinet. But there is a first time for everything.

(Disclosure: Marc Korman and Adam Pagnucco are on a host committee for an upcoming fundraiser for the Attorney General.)