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O'Malley Changes Horses--Updated

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley last night announced a shakeup in the senior staff of his campaign for governor, naming a former leader of the Maryland Democratic Party to replace a national Democratic operative as his campaign manager.

The campaign said Josh White, former executive director of the state party, would replace Jonathan Epstein, who was tapped to lead O'Malley's campaign last year. Epstein's résumé included leading field operations in Sen. John F. Kerry's win of the 2004 Iowa caucuses.

"We're doing this from a position of strength, not a position of weakness," O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said last night. "It was a mutual decision to move in a different direction, and we wish Jonathan the best of luck. The change in direction now is that this campaign will become more focused on Maryland and the people of Maryland."

His primary opponent, Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan responded today with a renewed call for debates with O'Malley.

"For me, this campaign has always been about Maryland - about the hopes and dreams of hardworking families all across this state," Duncan said in a statement.

"For over a year, Mayor O'Malley has refused to give the democratic voters of Maryland the vigorous debate they deserve between their two gubernatorial candidates. Now that the Mayor has decided that the focus of his campaign is Maryland, he should prove it by debating me and letting the voters choose."

"This is just silly," Abbruzzese shot back. "Instead of focusing on how to get publicity for himself, Mr. Duncan should be focused on how to reduce the congestion and sprawl that has resulted from his cozy relationship with big developers in Montgomery County."

In the Democratic primary contest, O'Malley has enjoyed early leads in polling, fundraising and key endorsements--and has aimed his campaign at the Republican governor, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., rather than his primary opponent.

There have been signs of a tightening race, although recent surveys have presented different pictures of the degree to which that may be happening.

A poll last month by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, for example, showed O'Malley leading by 9 percentage points among likely Democratic primary voters. Another statewide poll, conducted about the same time by OpinionWorks, showed a margin of 17 points. Neither O'Malley nor Duncan could muster enough votes to win the endorsement of the state's largest teachers union this weekend.

Aides to O'Malley acknowledged personality conflicts between Epstein and some longtime advisers to O'Malley, who was elected mayor of Baltimore in 1999 and has been eyeing a run for governor for several years.

White joined the O'Malley campaign in March as deputy campaign manager for political outreach. In addition to his promotion, the campaign announced that O'Malley's younger brother, Peter, a longtime political adviser, and Lucie Snodgrass, another longtime activist in Maryland politics, would be elevated to deputy campaign managers.

Snodgrass has worked as an aide to U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D) and as a governmental relations director for Harford County.

Epstein said today that he hopes to continue to be helpful to the campaign.

"Martin O'Malley is a good man, and I look forward to doing whatever I can to support his campaign for governor," he said.
John Wagner

By Phyllis Jordan  |  May 22, 2006; 7:01 AM ET
 
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Comments

Wow, I would have figured Duncan's camapign manager Scott Arceneaux would have been dumped before O'Malley's. Maybe the O'Malley campaign is in bigger trouble than most peple think.

Posted by: Fred | May 21, 2006 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Compare the news coverage of this campaign manager leaving to the coverage Michael Steele received when his campaign manager was replaced. It's obvious some papers are still trying to protect their hometown boy.

Posted by: mark | May 21, 2006 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Compare the coverage? He got a blog post, big deal. Geeze some people just like to whine.

Now, wasn't Josh White the one a lot of people accused of hiring and running MD4Bush (allegedly Ryan O'Doherty)?

Posted by: Bryan | May 21, 2006 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Changing campaign managers isn't the sign of a bad campaign. If anything, it shows that O'Malley is able and willing to critically evaluate his top advisors and bring in quality people to lead his organization.

This news is neutral until we see how Josh White performs.

Posted by: John Hamilton | May 21, 2006 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Changing your campaign manager midstream means something isn't working--how the MOM team will spin that positively is beyond me. Hamilton's reply above hasn't given us any indications either. MOM realizes DD's gains, that's what it comes down to I think.

Posted by: Bryan | May 22, 2006 12:39 AM | Report abuse

Campaigns are a drain on energy. I bet this guys legs just got tired and O'Malley saw it was time to bring in new blood.

I've read about this gut Josh in the past. Is he related to Karen White, I wonder?

I'm supprised Duncan's guy wasn't let go after failing to get the MSTA endorsement.

Posted by: Kevin C | May 22, 2006 7:23 AM | Report abuse

Josh White was an ineffective leader in the Md Democratic Party....that is why he was demoted and than canned. He has 0 personality skills but he does immerse himself in numbers. Amazing MOM puts the ringleader of MD4Bush as head of his campaign. Makes me think Peter and Martin and Josh planned the whole MD4Bush. Arrogance is their middle name!

Posted by: Natalie | May 22, 2006 10:26 AM | Report abuse

I wish we had updated fundraising numbers - after all of DD's TV ads - then maybe which campaign really is in trouble.

Its a sign that O'Malley is running the campaign, and that the campaign is not running O'Malley.

Posted by: George B. | May 22, 2006 10:48 AM | Report abuse

If this is such good news for the O'Malley camp, why haven't they posted it on their website?

Posted by: ron | May 22, 2006 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Even though Baltimore teachers were prohibited from taking part in the vote.

Geez Duncan, you can't even win an endorsement against O'Malley when O'Malley has one hand tied behind his back.

Get the message -- get out of the gov. race today.

Posted by: Duncan's great news -- he lost the latest major endorsement . . . | May 22, 2006 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I'm not sure how my last post violated your 'comment/posting standards', but I'll repeat my point.

If Baltimore City School Teachers were given a vote in the teacher's union would they really be able to make up the 13% difference between MOM and DD? I don't think that's feasible.

And this new guy, Josh White, wasn't he the same guy who called MD4Bush a 'hero' and then the Maryland Democratic Party condemned the actions/posts of MD4Bush 2 days later? Ryan O'Doherty got a newly-created job with the Baltimore Metropolitian Council with the help of Jim Smith and *drum roll* Martin O'Malley and he was Josh White's protege. Something doesn't jibe here.

Posted by: Bryan | May 22, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Sorry mods--thought I psoted the Balt city teachers comment here, but I had posted in the other threads so my apology for implying it was deleted, it was not.

Posted by: Bryan | May 22, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Bryan, I'm confused, you're actually saying that if Baltimore's teachers had been permitted to vote, that Duncan would have had a better chance of winning the teachers endorsement?

Are you drunk?

Let's be clear. This no endorsement decision by the teachers is an embarassment to the Duncan campaign because O'Malley was forced to compete even though Baltimore's teachers weren't permitted to take part in the process.

Read the message again to gain a better understanding of why Duncan's campaign is a loser.

Do the math -- Duncan lost the teachers endorsement even though Baltimore couldn't vote -- that's a pathetic showing for Duncan.

Posted by: Bryan likes Doug Duncan and so do greedy land developers. | May 22, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Josh White is not related to Karen White.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2006 2:08 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused, the string heading is about MOM firing his campaign manager John Epstein not about the recent teachers vote. If firing Epstein is such fantastic news for the O'Malley campaign, why have they refused to post it anywhere on O'Malley's campaign website?

Posted by: ron | May 22, 2006 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Does the O'Malley campaign pay for the astroturfing on this site?

Bottom line is that Duncan, without statewide media exposure, is fast gaining on the Dem estalishment's candidate with *plenty* of time to overtake him. The O'Malley fanboys in Baltimore and the lobbyists in Annapolis are starting to whine ... as witnessed in the above posts.

Just show ya : Duncan takes the opponent's best shot and is still standing.

Nice try, O'Malley.

Posted by: Just Wondering | May 22, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

This primary is turning into a good old-fashioned back alley street fight. That favors Duncan.

Posted by: ron | May 22, 2006 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Yep, O'Malley's decision to fire the campaign manager is good news because it shows that O'Malley is truly in charge of his own campaign.

On the other hand, Duncan's piss-poor showing with the teachers endorsement merits Jody Couser and Arceneaux being shown the door . . . but still no news on that front.

Posted by: Duncan is a fat developerl, but O'Malley's campaign manager being fired is good news for O'Malley . | May 22, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Oh, now I understand, gee, your post really cleared all of that up and makes a lot of sense. And it's good that you didn't make yourself look petty by taking any off-topic cheapshots at Duncan.

Posted by: ron | May 22, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Hamilton wrote: "Changing campaign managers isn't the sign of a bad campaign. If anything, it shows that O'Malley is able and willing to critically evaluate his top advisors and bring in quality people to lead his organization."

Uh, excuse me, but O'Malley replaced his campaign manager with his own brother, among other people. That's hardly the sign of someone who values meritocracy and is willing to bring in "quality people."

Posted by: tim | May 22, 2006 3:33 PM | Report abuse

I don't think anyone is claiming its "fantastic news." Making a change this late in an election is not ideal. But good luck trying to portray the O'Malley campaign as one that's struggling. They are still dominating in fundraising and the polls. Nine points is the smallest lead - and thats still a huge lead.

The only personnel news that has been posted on either of the websites (duncan and o'malley) is the LG announcements. The campaign website is the place for the candidate's message, not for the logistics of a campaign. The message is the same, so the website is too.

Posted by: George | May 22, 2006 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Well actually, O'Malley replaced his Campaign Manager with Josh White, not his brother. Peter O'Malley will serve as Deputy CM, a role in which he was probably already serving absent the title. Peter has already won several races for his brother so he merited the assignment.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 22, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

George wrote: "But good luck trying to portray the O'Malley campaign as one that's struggling. They are still dominating in fundraising and the polls. Nine points is the smallest lead - and thats still a huge lead."

My friend, the point is that (1) Duncan has narrowed O'Malley's lead considerably in the polls to single digits even while at a disadvantage in campaign funds and name recognition, (2) O'Malley was forced to fire his own campaign manager because Duncan has been gaining serious ground, and (3) O'Malley has refused to accept Duncan's challenge to debate him. All of this is good for Duncan and bad for O'Malley no matter how you try to spin it.

Posted by: todd | May 22, 2006 4:09 PM | Report abuse

The fundamental question:

Which candidate would you rather be right now?

It'd take a lot more than a minor shake-up up top and a couple swings in the polls (after a series of expensive ads) to make me want to give up O'Malley's statewide appeal and fundraising advantage.

Not to mention, he is the only gubernatorial candidate who can claim high ground on BGE, which will be the most important issue.

Posted by: George | May 22, 2006 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Do any of the WaPo reporters know if there was an internal poll that showed O'Malley dropping that predicated this move?

Posted by: Fred | May 22, 2006 7:21 PM | Report abuse

We asked. We don't know of any new polls.

Posted by: Phyllis Jordan | May 22, 2006 8:35 PM | Report abuse

So what's this I heard about the MSTA President strong-arming some votes for MOM to prevent DD from getting the endorsement of the MSTA--is it just misplaced DD talk? I mean losing by three percent does seem somewhat perplexing. Did their near-loss there play any roll in Epstein's "mutual leaving?"

Posted by: Bryan | May 23, 2006 12:18 AM | Report abuse

The strong arming is true, got it from several MSTA'ers over the weekend. She also had several "private" briefings with the Mayor, telling him exactly what to say and even helping craft his speech. Which explains why some said it was so good. With all that, she could not deliver. Since she could not still arm the endorsing committee in private, they ended up in open session debating the candidates.

Apparently he did not convince enough delegates that he was the annointed one. And after speaking to several Baltimore teachers, I don't think he'd have gotten anything but a Bronx cheer from them.

So to cover his shortcomings, he fires Epstein. A real shame, since he appears to be a decent guy. But you can't let that get in the way when you are really running for the White House in 2012.

Posted by: Paul | May 23, 2006 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Sorry. I meant "stiff arm," not "still arm."

Posted by: Paul | May 23, 2006 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Paul: "But you can't let that get in the way when you are really running for the White House in 2012."

You're kidding, right. I guess anyone can run for President if they really want to that bad. But his rough stint as Mayor of Baltimore already has killed his chances. And, of course, if he missteps against Duncan or Ehrlich, his political career is pretty much over then, too.

Posted by: tony | May 23, 2006 9:23 AM | Report abuse

wow you can guys have a lot of conspiracy theories hahahah

Posted by: jack bauer | May 23, 2006 10:04 AM | Report abuse

I'm writing you this message from Duncan headquarters and I'm urging anyone who wants Duncan to get elected to immediately call for the heads of Couser and Arceaneaux.

They have been terrible leaders for this campaign, but Duncan doesn't seem to get it.

Reporters continue to laugh at our cheap shots at O'Malley and they also don't take us seriously when we say we're going to win this campaign.

We just lost another major endorsement (the teachers) even though O'Malley didn't have any Baltimore teachers voting on his behalf -- it's an embarassment.

Also, we can't raise any money, even from developers, that Duncan has very close relationships with.

Please, Please, Please.

I urge my fellow Duncan supporters to contact Doug directly to tell him to fire Couser and Arceaneaux before it's too late.

Oops, I here someone knocking on my door -- over and out.

Posted by: I work on the Duncan campaign and I'm telling you we are a disaster! | May 23, 2006 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Someone CLEARLY has a major axe to grind with Arceneaux, this guy is ALWAYS calling for his head on a platter. What happened, Scott fire you or were you passed up for the Duncan job?

Geeze....

Posted by: An ax to grind | May 23, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Why would Duncan fire Arceneaux or Couser when he has all the momentum and is gaining rapidly in the polls? After all, it was O'Malley who was forced to fire his campaign manager because of Duncan's momentum, victory with the MSTA. O'Malley's decision to replace his campaign manager with his own brother is nepotism of the worst kind and will prove fatal.

Posted by: tony | May 23, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I love Scott!

Posted by: Aaron K. | May 23, 2006 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Couser really is the reason Duncan can't raise any money and can't win any major endorsements . . .

This teacher endorsement fiasco really exposed major flaws in the Duncan campaign.

Therefore, Couser must go.

Posted by: Don't fire Arceaneuax, fire Couser instead . . . | May 23, 2006 2:38 PM | Report abuse

The anti-DD "insider" stuff is probably MOM astroturf trolls, just like the old "MD4BUSH" that blew up in their face last year. They're making up stories to spin. ("some one knocking on the door". chuckle ... ha ha)


O'Malley has failed in his pre-emptive strikes against Duncan. Looks like Montgomery, Prince George's, and Baltimore County are finally going to take Baltimore City out to the woodshed.


Posted by: MD4BUSH | May 23, 2006 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know of a forum that is not 90% snot from extremists on both sides? Perhaps one with an occaisional mention of important issues, reasons to vote, that sort of thing?

'Cause this ain't it.

Posted by: need hip waders | May 23, 2006 6:08 PM | Report abuse

This really is turning into a good old-fashioned Maryland brawl. I think that Duncan needs to hit O'Malley hard for being untrustworthy. The trust issue is a huge negative for O'Malley and Duncan needs to hit him hard over the head over and over again on it until he wins.

Posted by: tom | May 23, 2006 9:04 PM | Report abuse

No problem, Duncan will do whatever it takes to win this thing, including airing all the dirt if that's what becomes necessary.

Posted by: tina | May 23, 2006 9:14 PM | Report abuse

The reports of stiff arming at MSTA are completely true - I was there! People were told directly that if they voted to support Duncan, they would not be selcted for leadership positions. Baltimore teachers are NOT a fan of O'Malley. Look at Duncan's record on education compared to O'Malley's. It is CLEAR who has the best record. I guess a reporter at the Baltimore Sun is working on the MSTA "arm twisting" because I have been contacted and asked to confirm reports of "voting oddities" at MSTA

Posted by: Howard County Teacher | May 26, 2006 4:02 PM | Report abuse

HoCo teacher, the reporter can work on whatever stories they like but I can tell you this, the Balt Sun editorial board is in O'Malley's back pocket and they will bury any reports that make him look bad, that's just the way it works in O'Malleyland, a/k/a Maryland.

Posted by: tony | May 29, 2006 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Your recent mailing is the worst promotion I've ever seen...this after 35 years as a public relations, prmotion, adverising expert. You mentioned the opponent name 13 times and showed his picture 3 times in favorable circumstance. YOUR name only one in 12 pt, type on return address. Sell what you have and will do. Push whom to vote FOR, not against. And now your TV ads to the same. Accentuate the positive, or that too simple for your campaign managers.

Posted by: Al Adler | September 6, 2006 2:09 PM | Report abuse

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