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First Click -- Maryland

First Click

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

Monday, Nov. 16, 2009:

State Republicans pick a new party leader; virtual blackjack and roulette likely coming to Maryland; House health-care bill includes billions more in stimulus money for Maryland, states; man appealing probation for online comment he'd "strangle" Gov. Martin O'Malley.

New face for Maryland Republicans
Audrey E. Scott is the new head of the Maryland Republican Party. The cabinet secretary under former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), and prior member of Prince George's County Council Party was elected Saturday in Bowie. In an address to delegates, she promised to bring "renewed vigor and excitement to our party," reports The Post's John Wagner: "Scott takes over at a time when Maryland Republicans are feeling buoyed by the national mood but face serious financial problems ... As of Saturday morning, the state GOP had less than $6,000 in the bank and more than $100,000 in outstanding bills and loans." The Baltimore Sun's take here.
Ehrlich gave a pep talk, but didn't say a word about whether he'll challenge Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) next year.

Virtual versions of banned games coming to Maryland

"Marylanders are likely to get something a bit closer to Caesar's Palace than the simple slots parlors many voters and lawmakers imagined" when they legalized slot machines last year, Wagner reports after traveling to similar venues in Pennsylvania and Indiana that run virtual blackjack and roulette. "State officials say they probably will allow electronic versions of the banned games when casinos start opening next year."

Billions in new federal stimulus for Maryland, states in House health-care bill
"Wedged in the House health-care bill is $23.5 billion that looks a lot more like new federal stimulus spending than anything to do with national health-care reform," writes The Post's Aaron Davis. "The barely debated pot of money would allow Congress to continue pumping billions in new short-term aid to states to cover Medicaid costs that have increased with rising unemployment in the past year ... In Maryland, the measure would mean $384 million next year in new funding, or enough to cover about 20 percent of the state's projected $1.9 billion shortfall."

Politics 2010: The view from campus
"Encouraged by the recent Republican victories in New Jersey and Virginia, former Gov. Robert Ehrlich, who presided over massive in-state tuition increases, is weighing a bid in the 2010 gubernatorial race," writes Allison Stice in the University of Maryland's Diamondback. If Ehrlich runs, the paper says, higher education will be a major focus of both campaigns.

"Strangle" O'Malley = Threat or Free Speech?
"Threatening words or protected speech? When Walter Carl Abbott Jr. posted comments last year on a Maryland government Web site saying he would "strangle" Gov. Martin O'Malley, he learned there's a difference," writes Jeffrey Anderson at The Washington Times. "The 45-year-old Pikesville construction worker was found guilty of threatening a public official. He is serving two years' probation. ... [but is] awaiting a ruling on whether a Baltimore County judge should have instructed a 12-member jury to consider whether he was exercising his First Amendment rights."

Briefly:

  • The Sun's Annie Linskey looks at the broad grassroots support enjoyed by Mayor Sheila Dixon even as she stands trial on theft charges.

  • The Sun's Michael Dresser looks at likely toll increases after the 2010 elections.

  • Environmental group lauds Maryland for progress in cutting carbon dioxide emissions, writes The Post's Christy Goodman

  • Sources: Prince George's County Sheriff Michael Jackson is running for county executive, writes The Post's Jonathan Mummolo.

  • The Baltimore Sun's Paul West looks at the peculiar statements by Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md) as to whether he'll be a witness at the theft trial of Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon.

  • The Post's Michael Laris takes a deeper look at the end to Montgomery County's battle over a new music hall.

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    By Aaron C. Davis  |  November 16, 2009; 6:45 AM ET
    Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click  
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    Next: O'Malley: Federal funds could be 'challenge pay' for principals

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