Josh Kurtz: Why Brown Lost

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By: Josh Kurtz 

The definitive article on the disintegration of Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s gubernatorial campaign, back in 2002, did not appear until three weeks after Election Day, when The Washington Post examined, in exquisite detail, the role of Alan Fleischmann, KKT’s close friend and top adviser.

So the ultimate “What Went Wrong?” article about Anthony Brown’s campaign – which has echoes of the KKT disaster, plus its own unique series of unfortunate events – may yet be written. You’re not going to read it here, though – not exactly, anyway.

There’s an old saying in politics that a winning campaign has a thousand fathers, while a losing campaign is an orphan. But that’s not exactly true. Townsend’s campaign clearly had Fleischmann as its father – and Bob Shrum, the longtime Kennedy family consigliere, as its godfather. Brown’s failed campaign may not have had a thousand fathers (and mothers), but it probably had a few dozen.

Those captains and first mates and boatswains of Brown’s sunken ship shouldn’t despair. Fleischmann in the aftermath of KKT’s campaign resumed his role as an international man of mystery with a gold-plated Rolodex, who worked until recently with Madeleine Albright and now runs his own consulting business. And Shrummy? He continues to dine out on writing one of the best political speeches of all time, 34 years ago.

So Brown’s campaign stalwarts will have a future – maybe even in politics. And best of all, here, now, they will be immortalized in verse.

Rather than an in-depth look at what went wrong, which is tempting to write, we offer instead a series of haikus – which seems, for now, like the best all the culprits can hope for.

Maia Estes

Maia Estes

Brown’s gatekeeper to a fault

What did that achieve?

Justin Schall

Justin Schall, in thrall

To national consultants

Who then took it all

Quincey Gamble

Those powerful arms

Wave in the air, and for what?

He will land somewhere

Cookie Cutter Ads

Where are we, again?

Same TV ads in Denver

The Dems lost there, too

Abortion and Guns

Abortion and guns

Important issues, for sure

But not in this race

Baltimore Suburbs and Exurbs

Don’t like those black guys

Sick of that O’Malley, too

We sure showed them, right?

State Democratic Establishment

Anoint a loser

What about democracy?

It’s been known to work

GOTV

Knock and drag – it works

But Brown was all digital

More consultant goofs

Wise Men 

Wise men John and Tim

They were with KKT, too

Power receding

Martin O’Malley

40 new taxes

Big weapon for GOP

He’s in Iowa

President Obama

Bad math: Six-Year Itch

Plus plenty of disasters

The thrill is sure gone

Peter Franchot

Mr. Fiscal Hawk

Comfort to the enemy

In four years? No way!

Voter Enrollment

Dems’ 2-to-1 Edge

An illusory cushion

Took it for granted

Rushern, Stephanie and Ike

Leaders of Big 3

Rushern, Stephanie and Ike

Just didn’t do much

Ken Ulman

Should have run himself

He’s collateral damage

Even lost home turf

Larry Hogan

Give the guy credit

Was focused and ebullient

Winning formula

Anthony Brown

No message, no charm

Big sense of entitlement

The buck stops with him

Josh Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily, a Capitol Hill publication. He can be reached at .

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Josh Kurtz has been writing about Maryland politics since late 1995. Louie Goldstein, William Donald Schaefer and Pete Rawlings were alive, but the Intercounty Connector, as far as anyone could tell, was dead.


But some things never change: Mike Miller is still in charge of the Senate. Gerry Evans and Bruce Bereano are among the top-earning lobbyists in Annapolis. Steny Hoyer is still waiting for Nancy Pelosi to disappear. And Maryland Republicans are still struggling to be relevant.


The media landscape in Maryland has changed a lot, and Kurtz is happy to write weekly for Center Maryland. He's been writing a column for the website since it launched in January 2010.


In his "real" job, Kurtz is editor of Environment & Energy Daily down on Capitol Hill. But he'll always find Maryland politics more fascinating.


Kurtz grew up in New York City and attended public schools there. He has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. He's married with two daughters and lives in Takoma Park, Md. He hopes you'll drop him a line, or maybe go out for a meal with him, because he's always hungry -- for political gossip.