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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

Your daily download of Maryland's top political news and analysis

Thursday, November 5, 2009:


Election Analysis:
What's it mean for Maryland? Big Republican wins in Virginia and New Jersey were "relevant" to next year's gubernatorial race in Maryland, says former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). He told The Post's John Wagner that Tuesday's results would figure prominently in his thinking about a possible comeback.

Gov. Martin O'Malley and other state Democrats downplayed the meaning of the results for Maryland, where their party is more dominant.

"I think every race is a little different. I mean, Maryland's not New Jersey or Virginia," O'Malley told reporters, adding that above all else, he thinks Tuesday's results showed voters are apprehensive about the economy and want the government to do more to fix it.

"The best way to prepare for next year is to work as hard as we can right now, to bring recovery to Maryland as soon as possible ...by next year, it's my hope that people will not be in such pain as we are all in right now."

For a rematch, Ehrlich on Wednesday seemed more focused on whether he could win than why he would run. "We're doing the science. . . . I want to look at cross tabs. I want to look at independents. I want to look at ticket-splitters," Ehrlich said, describing his analysis as objective as possible.

The Baltimore Sun's take here.

Late last night, the nonpartisan Clarus Research Group released a poll showing O'Malley with a 7 percentage point lead over Ehrlich in a hypothetical 2010 rematch.

The spread is about the same as that by which O'Malley prevailed in 2006, but Clarus concluded that the Democratic incumbent could be vulnerable, as economic and state fiscal issues drag on his re-election prospects.

Union submits plan to save Eastern Shore hospital
The state's largest public employees union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, says it has a plan for how to cut about 30 percent of annual operating costs out of an Eastern Shore mental hospital - savings that could make it more beneficial to keep the facility open than to pay to relocate hundreds of patients elsewhere in the state.
The closure of the Upper Shore Community Mental Health Center, which O'Malley and the state's Board of Public Works approved, but then delayed under pressure to consider alternatives, has become a touchstone for the union and other advocates as state budget cuts threaten more and more core state services and state employees' jobs.
The AP's Brian Witte details the union's plan here.

State to begin "emergency" dam removal
Um, that'd be the emergency action the state determined necessary after Hurricane Agnes in 1972 exposed problems with the Union Dam on the Patapsco River in Baltimore County, state officials testified on Wednesday. The Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved $1.5 million in funding to remove the structure. State officials said they got serious about getting permits to deal with the dam 12 years ago. Treasurer Nancy Kopp said she was baffled by the decades-long delay. "Has anyone written this up as a case study .... 12 years?"

Aim for the bleachers (but don't hit the scoreboard)
The Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved $24 million for improvements to Camden Yards and M&T Stadium, including a new $3.3 million scoreboard for the Ravens. Stadium authority executives all but put the board on the hook after they said failing to make the improvements could expose the state to a lawsuit from Ravens for not giving fans a world-class game experience, which they said was written in to state's leasing contract.
Comptroller Peter Franchot quipped that the state could maybe save money by borrowing the scoreboard from FedEx Field, since the Redskins didn't seem to need it.
Nicholas Sohr has more details in The Daily Record

Lots of news in brief:

  • Maryland Politics Watch notes the rumors that Prince George's State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey may be considering a challenge to Congresswoman Donna Edwards.

  • Maryland Register of Wills for Montgomery County Joseph M. Green has halted weekly fitness and nutrition classes for his staff after state auditors said the $36,000 he spent over three years was "an unacceptable use of taxpayer funds," writes Erin Cunningham in The Gazette.

  • Another budget hit: "Maryland will likely have to ramp up its contribution to its pension funds from $1.2 billion to $1.4 billion, more bad news for budget officials already facing a deficit of more than $2 billion, writes Andy Rosen at MarylandReporter.com

  • Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon says she'll continue to run the city while jury selection in her corruption trial begins next week. She also says she's "excited" and confident she'll clear her name, the AP reports.

  • Worries in Allegany County about new voting machines.

  • Wine retailers are renewing efforts to convince the state's General Assembly to legalize direct shipments of wine, rather than requiring purchases to go through a distributor.

  • The EPA says it has sent letters to Chesapeake Bay states outlining its "rigorous expectations" to restore water quality, the AP reports.

  • Post Columnist Dana Milbank says the things Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says frequently go "beyond the comprehension of mortals."

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    By Aaron C. Davis  |  November 5, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
    Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
    Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Poll: O'Malley leads Ehrlich but could be vulnerable
    Next: State may levy millions in fines against Montgomery schools

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