There’s a war of words following the Maryland Democratic Primary governor’s race debate.
During Monday’s WBAL-TV/Maryland Public Television debate, Wes Moore broadsided Peter Franchot with allegations that, as a member of the state Board of Public Works, Franchot awards contracts to entities that contribute to his campaign.
It’s a bombshell of an accusation that Franchot says isn’t true, saying he considers it a desperate move to try to catch him in the polls. The Moore campaign is backing up its claim with documents.
“There are oftentimes people who have donated to his campaign — no, not once, not twice, but 12 times — that has happened that he has offered a contract to someone who had donated to his campaign,” Moore said.
| WATCH: WBAL-TV/MPT Democratic Primary Governor’s Candidate Debate
The comment came during the debate after a question about integrity raised by 11 News anchor Deborah Weiner, who was one of the debate panelists.
Franchot, who, an independent poll shows, is the frontrunner in the Democratic Primary race for Maryland governor, responded Tuesday to an accusation he can be bought.
“It’s just nonsense,” Franchot told 11 News on Tuesday. “They think by impugning someone’s character, they can win. It’s not true. They are going to be left behind because this is something the public is really turned off about.”
The Moore campaign provided 43 pages of documents to support examples of pay-for-play claims that happened shortly before or after key votes of the Board of Public Works. The Moore campaign identified 12 companies that gave Franchot’s campaign more than $50,000 and have received state contracts worth more than $1.67 billion.
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“It is completely anticipated, and it is highly unfortunate because instead of talking about issues that Maryland citizens and voters care about, they end up impugning people’s character and their motives, and in a primary, that’s just poisonous,” Franchot said.
An independent poll by The Baltimore Sun and the University of Baltimore puts Franchot ahead with 20% of the vote in the primary, followed by Moore with 15% and Tom Perez carrying 12%.
“This desperate, last-minute ‘Can I possibly catch him in the polls?’ (effort), that’s what this is all about, and it’s sad, frankly,” Franchot said. “I am the absolute opposite of someone who is affected by campaign contributions. I have in my entire career (and) never had a blemish.
Franchot predicts going negative rather than talking about issues is likely to backfire.
Primary Election Day is July 19.
Video below: Poll finds favorites amid gubernatorial Democratic primary debate