WASHINGTON — In their first and only debate before the Nov. 6 election, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and his Democratic challenger, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, squared off Monday in a contentious showdown where each candidate painted a different picture of the state of affairs in Maryland.
Hogan praised Maryland’s economic growth after making the state’s economy one of his top priorities four years ago. “We now have more businesses open and more people working in our state than ever before in the history of the state,” Hogan said.
But Jealous rejected the rosy view, insisting that Maryland’s economic growth lags behind its neighbors. “Our job growth is so low that we’re dead last in the region in job growth, dead last in income growth,” Jealous said.
The debate had a few testy moments with the candidates interrupting each other and trading barbs.
“Not a single word that you said was true,” Hogan said in response to Jealous’ assessment of the Maryland economy.
When Jealous defended his plan to reduce Maryland’s state prison population, he dismissed Hogan’s criticism that the plan would release violent offenders and reduce public safety.
“From Willie Horton to Donald Trump, your party plays by the same playbook: You lie and you scare people,” Jealous said.
The candidates also sharply disagreed over the state of Maryland’s public education.
“Over the last four years, our schools have fallen in the national rankings. Every year Governor Hogan’s been in office, they’ve fallen from first to sixth,” Jealous said.
Hogan defended his record on education. “No governor in the history of the state has ever invested more (in education). We went over and above the legislatively mandated formulas and put more money in spite of declining school populations,” he said.
The candidates also sharply differed over health care, mass transit and gun policy.
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