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First Click, Maryland -- Four more years

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010:

The Agenda

Me in dots.jpgBarring a totally unexpected turn of events, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s confirmation Tuesday that he is seeking a rematch with Martin O'Malley (D) means Maryland's governor for the coming four years will be someone Marylanders already know pretty well -- regardless of who wins.

In fact, not much about Ehrlich's conference call with reporters was surprising, in part because the news had been telegraphed for weeks, and many of the details had already leaked out. Ehrlich (R) plans to make his formal announcement next Wednesday at Rockville Town Center, before traveling to his boyhood home of Arbutus for an event that evening.

Ehrlich hand.jpgAs familiar as the candidates are, many questions remain about how the coming weeks will play out. Here are just four of them, starting with one that next Wednesday's announcement could help answer.

1. What are Ehrlich's new ideas?

The slogan -- "New Ideas. Proven Leadership." -- appears prominently on Ehrlich's Facebook page. And he made a point on Tuesday's conference call of saying that voters "want to hear your ideas about what you want to do." But Ehrlich passed on an opportunity to preview any of those.

It's not hard to envision the campaign devolving into two bitter rivals trying to tear one another down. The extent to which Ehrlich puts forward specific policy proposals could go a long way toward setting the tone for the race.

2. What about those other guys running for governor?

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it should at least be noted that both O'Malley and Ehrlich appear to have primary competition. Maryland's primaries aren't until September. The other candidates haven't had much impact thus far and probably won't. But you never know.

George W. Owings III, a former Ehrlich Cabinet secretary, made a splash in January with his announcement that he is challenging O'Malley for the Democratic nomination. We haven't heard much from George since.

Wayne K. Curry (D), the former Prince George's County executive, has said he will make a decision by next month about whether to jump into the Democratic primary as well. If Curry runs, we don't expect him to be so silent.

Political newcomer Brian Murphy, meanwhile, has said he is in the Republican primary to stay.

3. Where does Ehrlich go for a running mate?

Ehrlich laughed this question off as premature during Tuesday's conference call, but it's got to be on his mind. The name mentioned most often in largely uninformed speculation is Mary D. Kane, a Montgomery County resident who was Ehrlich's secretary of state and is married to John Kane, the former Maryland GOP chairman.

This will be Ehrlich's third choice of a running mate, and he has a history of picking interesting ones. In 2002, it was Michael S. Steele, an African-American who is now the controversial chairman of the Republican National Committee. In 2006, Ehrlich went with Kristen Cox, his disabilities department secretary, who is legally blind.

4. What about the legislative session?

The most practical implication of Ehrlich's news for Maryland political reporters is that another big ring has been added to the circus. Ehrlich plans several stops around Maryland following next Wednesday's formal announcement -- all of which come in the final days of the 2010 legislative session.

Granted, this hasn't been the most exciting of sessions, but the timing of Ehrlich's announcement ensures its conclusion won't get as much attention as it would have otherwise. We'll leave it for another day to explore whether that helps or hurts O'Malley.

-- John Wagner

News You Should Know

It's impeachment day in the House
Grab your camera. It's time to find out just how far Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel) will go to carry out his threat that he "won't go down without a fight" when he stands to read articles of impeachment against Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler for directing Maryland state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. For more than three weeks, Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for dwyer-facebook.jpgDwyer has been telling reporters he's prepared to be physically removed from the chamber should Democrats try to squash his attempt to impeach.

First Click previously dissected Dwyer's legal argument, and why House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) is expected to quickly rule him out of order when the spectacle begins. Still Dwyer's threats have gotten a lot of ink in recent days. On Tuesday, The New York Times prepped today's events. Len Lazarack at Maryland Reporter put together one of several longer pieces on Dwyer's argument. And The Capital notes that in the midst of the impeachment story, Dwyer may actually get his first bill passed in eight years in Annapolis. Still, the only real question on Wednesday is whether Dwyer will be carried from the chamber by State Police?

Rest assured, we'll let you know either way. You can check out The Post's Maryland Politics blog for any news later this morning.
-- Aaron C. Davis

O'Malley's sex offender bills clear Senate
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for O'Malley recent mug.jpg"The Maryland General Assembly has given its blessing to all of Gov. Martin O'Malley's proposed sex offender reforms. The Senate yesterday joined the House of Delegates in passage of a plan that adds more information to the state's publicly available sex offender registry and of a measure to reconstitute a long-dormant Sex Offender Advisory Board," reports The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz. "O'Malley, a Democrat, was criticized earlier this year by some lawmakers for not activating the board sooner. The Senate has also signed off on "lifetime supervision" of certain violent and repeat sex offenders who leave prison ... Although O'Malley's package is nearly ready for his signature, two major sex offender proposals by other lawmakers remain in a key Senate committee as the legislative session winds down. It is unclear whether the Senate will OK a House plan to eliminate good-time prison credits for the worst sex offenders and extend prison sentences for child molesters."

Embattled Montgomery County nonprofit loses work
"Montgomery County has decided to transfer $450,000 in contracts with Centro Familia, a Wheaton nonprofit group whose spending practices have been under scrutiny by the county and the FBI, to a larger county nonprofit group with broad experience managing millions of dollars in government funds," writes The Post's Miranda S. Spivack. "Uma Ahluwalia, head of the county's Department of Health and Human Services, confirmed Tuesday that Family Services Inc. will take over the financial operations of Centro Familia. Centro Familia's bilingual preschool and training for home day-care providers will continue to operate at its Wheaton facilities."

Opinion: Maryland and the District must pay their Metro fare
"HERE'S A QUESTION for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty," writes The Post's Editorial Page. "Will you join Virginia in protecting Metro from crippling service cuts that could represent a downward tipping point for the economy of the entire Washington area? That may sound like an overstatement, but it's not. Metro is facing the threat of service cuts -- shorter trains, much longer daytime and weekend waits, and other drastic curtailments, including to bus service -- whose effect would be to further sap an anemic transit system"


Quotables

"The last thing that people want to see is a schoolyard, middle-school, who-struck-John, bully stuff right now. They want to hear your ideas about how you're going to fix it. They want to hear about your ideas about what you want to do."
-- former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) on a conference call Tuesday with reporters saying he'll begin to lay out his campaign ideas next week.

"I look forward to the upcoming campaign and a healthy debate about moving Maryland forward."
-- Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) responding to news of Ehrlich's campaign announcement.

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Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics. Each weekday, First Click brings you The Agenda, a concise, forward-looking analysis of the day's top development in politics or policy. "News You Should Know" breaks down top stories from across the state. And Look Ahead, Unspun, News Makers, and Week in Review keep you up to speed with power brokers in Annapolis and beyond. Want First Click on the go? Sign up for our free e-mail edition, and get the news delivered to your inbox or mobile device.

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By Aaron C. Davis  |  March 31, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: With Ehrlich in, O'Malley declines to handicap race

Comments

And why is Robert Ehrlich running for governor of Maryland again? Is it because MArtin O'Malley beat him four years ago and he wants to see if he can beat him this time. Ehrlich has already been a governor why would this guy want a job back he's already had?. He will bring nothing new to the table I think he just needs something to do? I'm a Maryland resident and I wouldn't vote for Ehrlich again. Martin O'Malley is doing and has done a great job as governor. More people should run for governor.

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