First lady Michelle Obama gave Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown a campaign boost Monday, capping a string of appearances by high-profile politicians to help energize voters in a competitive race for Maryland governor in a heavily Democratic state.
Addressing roughly 1,500 people in Baltimore's War Memorial Building a day before Election Day, the first lady highlighted some of Brown's major campaign issues, such as making pre-kindergarten universal by the end of this first term.
"Nothing is more important than education,'' she said.
Obama said the race was close, and she urged voters to take nothing for granted as she pressed them to help Brown prevail against Republican Larry Hogan.
"If we stay home tomorrow, we're just letting other folks decide the outcome for us,'' Obama said.
Polls have shown Brown leading, but the race is believed to be competitive. Several prominent political figures have come to Maryland to help him, including former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. Former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton held a rally for Brown last week in College Park.
Despite its proximity to Washington, Maryland generally doesn't attract as much attention from prominent political figures in the final weeks of a campaign, because the state is generally considered safe for Democrats, particularly in statewide races.
Hogan said the extra attention is a sign Democrats are feeling the heat of a competitive campaign in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by a factor of 2-1.
"I think most people thought that this was a foregone conclusion -- that Maryland was so solidly Democratic that there wouldn't be any race at all, and the fact that he's called in two presidents and two first ladies, that he's run 15 or 16 of the most negative attack ads in the entire nation, I think it shows a little bit of desperation on their part,'' Hogan said.
Hogan has drawn some attention from Republicans as well. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made four stops in Maryland for Hogan, including a rally Sunday night in Baltimore. Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge came to Maryland for a Hogan fundraiser last month.
Both President Obama and Hillary Clinton appeared in Prince George's County, Brown's home base, which is heavily Democratic and majority black. Brown would be Maryland's first black governor, if he wins.
The first lady's appearance was the first major rally with a prominent national figure for Brown in Baltimore, which also is majority black and heavily Democratic.