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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

Your Daily Download of the State's Top Political News and Analysis

Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009:

United Way Executive Joins O'Malley Cabinet
Alex Sanchez has been chosen to succeed Thomas E. Perez, who has been nominated by President Barack Obama to head the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Sanchez, a Virginia resident, currently serves as Senior Vice President for Community Impact Leadership at the United Way. He will be introduced this morning at a news conference at the State House.

New Poll Numbers on O'Malley, Economy:
"When it comes to gubernatorial politics in Maryland, not a whole lot has changed in the last three years.
"That, at least, is the conclusion of a new poll that shows Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) beating former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), 49 percent to 38 percent, in a hypothetical matchup," writes The Post's John Wagner.
"Ehrlich appears to be about where he was three years ago when he left office: well-enough liked but unable to get much beyond his base," says the new poll from Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies of Annapolis.
Despite rounds of budget cuts, O'Malley's job approval numbers are also unchanged from the last Gonzales poll in January: 48 percent say they approve of the job he's doing, while 27 percent disapprove, and 15 percent have no opinion.

A large majority of Maryland voters -- 75 percent -- say that the state budget is a "very big problem," according to the poll. But a simple majority can't agree on a single thing to do about it:
80 percent oppose reducing state aid for public education.
70 percent oppose reducing services for the poor.
67 percent oppose reducing state aid for higher education.
67 percent oppose increasing the state income tax.
64 percent oppose increasing the state sales tax.
56 percent oppose reducing state funding for environmental programs.
51 percent oppose reducing state funding for transportation projects.

The poll also suggests that Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), who is up for re-election next year, remains the state's most popular politician. Statewide, 64 percent of voters have a favorable opinion of her, compared to 23 percent with an unf

Gansler Will Investigate ACORN
Hours after the Justice Department's inspector general announced Monday that he plans a review of funding to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Maryland's top law enforcement officer also moved to launch an investigation.
Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) asked and received permission from Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) to investigate and, if necessary, prosecute "conduct involving" ACORN.
Gansler's investigation effectively usurps Baltimore City State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy. She had called the secret taping of ACORN employees giving tax advice to a man and woman posing as a pimp and prostitute illegal under Maryland's requirement for two-party consent for audio recordings.
"As time went on, it became clear that the local authorities were not going to look into it," said Raquel Guillory, Gansler's spokeswoman. "It's obviously something that needed to be looked into, and that's why we've taken this step."
(Under Maryland law, the attorney general must be granted subpoena power and other authorities to carry out an investigation inside a local jurisdiction).

Prince George's Layoffs Harbinger for Maryland Counties?
The county's announcement on Monday that as many as 125 employees will be laid off Nov. 1 underscores the worsening financial picture in Prince George's, where officials had so far avoided cutting jobs. The Post's Jonathan Mummolo writes that the layoffs could be a harbinger for localities across Maryland that are reeling from more than $200 million in local aid cuts from the state last month.

A Triple A Bond Rating, But Maryland Gets a "B" on Fiscal Report Card
The nonprofit Corporation for Enterprise Development, which has been tracking economic data for 30 years, gives Maryland a higher mark than last year but below 10 other states, writes Eileen Ambrose in The Baltimore Sun.
"Maryland received its highest marks in education. But the study found vulnerabilities among health insurance among financially struggling households and employment growth.

By Aaron C. Davis  |  September 22, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click  
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