ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Attorney General Doug Gansler is highlighting his plan to cut the corporate-income-tax rate to demonstrate he is the most willing of Maryland’s Democratic primary candidates for governor to do what’s needed to spur the economy after years of tax increases.

“I think we’ve been driving that conversation in the Democratic primary, and the big overlay of this is that the constant taxing of Marylanders … is squeezing the middle class to a place where there’s a real recognition that we have a problem,” Gansler said in an interview with The Associated Press this week.

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Gansler wants to gradually cut the state’s corporate income tax from 8.25 percent to 6 percent. One of Gansler’s opponents, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, has been critical of the proposal. For one thing, Brown said, two out of three residents in the private sector are hired by small businesses, which don’t pay the corporate income tax. But Gansler contends Maryland needs to do more to attract large employers interested in being near Washington, D.C., to help expand the state’s tax base to help pay for the state’s needs.

“Our plan is to bring jobs back to Maryland,” Gansler said.

Brown wants to create a commission to study tax reform. Del. Heather Mizeur, who also is running in the Democratic primary, wants to bring back a tax on people who make $1 million or more a year to ease the tax burden on the middle class.

In addition to economic policies, Gansler is underscoring his resume in law enforcement. He says his experience enforcing pollution regulations as attorney general will continue to benefit efforts to clean the Chesapeake Bay. He also says his experience as Montgomery County state’s attorney and as attorney general have positioned him to better address criminal justice problems in the state, including the serious corruption problems that were revealed last year at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Gansler’s campaign has been on the defensive at times. For example, in October, he called a news conference outside his campaign headquarters to say he should have done more to see whether there was underage drinking going on at a teenage beach party in Delaware that he briefly visited to talk with his son.

Late last year, he also had to respond to a report in The Washington Post that he ordered state troopers to drive him around with lights and sirens on, and to run red lights on the way to appointments, according to written reports by state police officials. Gansler says the picture that was painted by state police documents was not an accurate reflection and that he never ordered a trooper to do anything.

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Now, though, the badly flawed rollout of the state’s health exchange website has created an opening for Gansler to go on the offensive against Brown, who was leading the implementation of health care reform in Maryland.

“There was nobody captaining the ship, is what happened there,” Gansler said.

While Gansler has served two terms in the statewide position of attorney general, his campaign has largely been spurned by the Democratic political elite in Annapolis that favors Brown, who served in the House of Delegates before becoming lieutenant governor.

That doesn’t bother Gansler.

“Ultimately, I think the people are going to want to look at the records of the candidates, what they’ve actually done for the people of Maryland and what they intend to do and do they have credibility for that,” Gansler said.

The primary is June 24.

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