An Early Start on November
Even before the Sept. 12 primary, Maryland Democrats are busy preparing for a bruising Senate race against the presumptive Republican nominee, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele .
Last week, party volunteers began distributing thousands of door hangers in the six jurisdictions with the largest population of Democrats: Montgomery, Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties, and the city of Baltimore.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has reserved time for television ads in the final days before the general election in both the Washington and Baltimore media markets, according to campaign sources and records filed with television stations.
And according to tax records, Keith Griffin , a former legislative director for U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.) who in 2004 served as a presidential campaign staffer for Wesley K. Clark and later for John F. Kerry , has formed a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group called "Your Voice! Your Vote!"
Filing records show the group was formed in Silver Spring "to promote the registration . . . and education of minority citizens," an effort Griffin describes in the records as nonpartisan. But given the lopsided number of minority voters in Maryland who are Democrats, it is in all likelihood intended to help increase Democratic voter turnout in the November election.
Such entities also are increasingly being used in politics as a way to pool money in independent accounts where contributions can be sought without having to reveal the identities of the donors until after the election. Attempts to reach Griffin for comment were unsuccessful.
This comes even before Democrats choose a candidate from the field of 18 running in the primary and is in part an attempt to help their eventual nominee keep pace with an opponent who has no serious primary opposition.
Steele campaign aides suspect these efforts are intended to adhere to a plan mapped out in a DSCC strategy memo months ago that described Steele as a "unique challenge" and said that "a persuasion campaign should start as soon as possible to discredit Steele as a viable candidate for the [black] community."
"It's all part of a coordinated campaign," said Doug Heye , a Steele spokesman. "It shows us exactly how scared they are."
The leaflet being distributed to the doors of Democrats by the state party appears to be aimed at countering Steele's TV commercial, which is in wide circulation and touts the lieutenant governor as someone who will come to Washington to shake things up.
The leaflet shows Steele and President Bush standing shoulder-to-shoulder behind the headline "Enough is Enough" and includes a published quote from Steele in which he describes the president as "a friend. I appreciate his support and if that is being aligned with the president, then count me guilty."
Democratic Party spokesman Arthur Harris said the door hangers have started going up because "now is a good time to clarify for the voters of Maryland that the real Steele is an enabler for George Bush's agenda."
| September 3, 2006; 10:45 AM ET
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