Here’s a Different Way to Get to Know the Democratic Candidates for Governor

    It’s often said that in an election, voters gravitate toward the candidate they would most like to have a beer with.

    With that in mind, state Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-Montgomery) is providing a major public service with the latest round of interviews on her “Kibbitzing With Kagan” podcast. Kagan has interviewed eight of the nine Democratic contenders for governor — Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot declined to participate — on mostly non-political topics.

    Listeners can learn about the candidates’ upbringing, including details about their childhood pets and favorite TV shows. They can hear the candidates discuss their school-age crushes and favorite teachers. They can get a list of their favorite Broadway musicals and learn about their “political sheroes or heroes.” They can find out where the candidates place themselves on an ideological spectrum and hear about the nonprofit groups the candidates personally support.

    Whether it gets Democratic voters any closer to the “who would you like to have a beer with?” answer is hard to say. But based on the interviews we’ve heard — we don’t want to give too much away — we were intrigued by the candidate who said his favorite TV show when he was growing up was “Get Smart.” We found the answers about Broadway musicals a little dismaying (no Sondheim)? And we found the the candidates’ responses to the ideological spectrum question — in one or two cases, there was a non-response — very telling.

    It also took us back to the crowded 1998 Democratic primary for Montgomery County Council at-large, when we asked the candidates a series of fun questions, including, “Who is your favorite Beatle?”

    “Peter Tork,” one of the candidates replied.

    Kagan has been posting a new “Kibbitzing With Kagan” episode every day, in alphabetical order, and so far there are seven episodes posted, featuring former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, former Clinton administration official Jon Baron, former Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, former Obama administration official Ashwani Jain, former U.S. Education Secretary John B. King Jr., author Wes Moore, and former Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez. The episode with Baltimore tech entrepreneur Michael Rosenbaum will be posted at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

    Among other places, the podcast can be found on the senator’s YouTube channel.

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    Josh Kurtz
    Founding Editor Josh Kurtz is a veteran chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He was an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, for eight years, and for eight years was the editor of E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill. For 6 1/2 years Kurtz wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz regularly gives speeches and appears on TV and radio shows to discuss Maryland politics.