Following a series of negative headlines -- including national coverage of a photo of him at a teen beach party -- Maryland governor candidate Doug Gansler has said he thinks he knows where the stories originated.
"We know exactly who these things are fed by ... do I think this is a character assassination set up by my opponent? Maybe," Gansler said at a press conference called to respond to the beach party picture.
But Tuesday, Gansler's chief opponent in the race for governor -- Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown -- said he was not the source of the stories.
When News4's Mark Segraves asked the candidate if he had anything to do with the stories, Brown said, "Our focus will not be what other campaigns are doing or candidates, it will be on the future of Maryland."
Segraves asked again if the campaign had anything to do with stories of Gansler at the teen party, or of a previous Washington Post story about a speed-camera ticket that Gansler never paid. "Did you have anything to do with it?" Segraves asked.
"Nothing," Brown said, at an appearance at a counseling center for victims of domestic abuse. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Segraves asked, "Nobody in your campaign?
And Brown replied again, "Nothing." That was the first time Brown had directly responded to Gansler's charge.
Gansler's most recent controversy was over a photo that showed him at a party of young people. After the Baltimore Sun obtained the photo and questioned Gansler, he said he was there only to have a quick conversation with his son. He also said he saw no reason that he should shut down the party, even though he knew many attendees were recent high school graduates.
“Do I have any moral authority over other people’s children at beach week in another state? I say no,” Gansler told the Sun.
Gansler later called a press conference where he said he probably should have investigated to see if there was underaged drinking at the party. "When I'm wrong, I'm wrong," he said. "In this case I could have done something differently."
Previously, the Washington Post had reported that Gansler, now serving as Attorney General, regularly ordered state troopers to speed as they drove him to routine meetings.
And he had been quoted saying that Brown was playing the race card in his campaign for governor. "I mean, right now his campaign slogan is, 'Vote for me, I want to be the first African-American governor of Maryland,'" Gansler was quoted saying to volunteers.
Gansler's running mate, Jolene Ivey, has joined him in claiming the bad press was the result of leaks from Brown's camp. "I'm sure the other side is trying to throw dirt every time were making progress," Ivey said.
It does seem clear that this election -- which is still a year away -- will have a negative tone.
As Brown appeared at the counseling center, Gansler's campaign put out a press release that challenged his record on domestic violence.