Democratic candidate for governor Ben Jealous is accusing Gov. Larry Hogan of mocking his speech impairment.
The dispute stems from a video Hogan’s campaign posted online on Monday. The roughly 30-second video shows Jealous mixing up his words — saying “Virginia” when he means Maryland and “president” when he means governor.
At a press conference Tuesday, Jealous said his stutter was behind the snafus.
“Stuttering is like a speed bump in your brain, and word replacement is a way that you deal with it,” he said. “Maybe when you’re a little more exhausted, things might be a little bit more likely to go wrong.”
Jealous has been open about his struggles with the speech impairment. During Tuesday’s press conference, he accused Hogan of bullying him, and of setting a bad example for Maryland youth.
But Hogan’s campaign wasn’t buying the explanation.
“Mr. Jealous can’t simply disown his words every time he gets in trouble with voters,” said campaign spokesman Scott Sloofman in a statement.
People who stutter tend to focus a lot of energy on their word choice, avoiding words that usually cause them to stumble, said Craig Coleman, who specializes in stuttering and other communication disorders at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia.
“What you can have sometimes is not necessarily that they are saying, you know, ‘Virginia,’ because I want to avoid, ‘Maryland,’ but saying, ‘Virginia,’ because I’m thinking about so many other things that I’m not even focused on that because I’m worrying about when I’m going to stutter next time,” Coleman said.
Jealous said he didn’t even realize he had misspoken until someone told him 15 seconds later.