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First Click, Maryland -- The election after this one

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Thursday, May 13, 2010:

The Agenda

WagnerWe'll return to our regularly scheduled coverage of the 2010 elections shortly. But for now, let's turn the clock forward to 2014.

It's hardly a secret that at least three Democrats on the statewide ballot this year -- Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and Comptroller Peter Franchot -- harbor ambitions to succeed Martin O'Malley (D) as governor of Maryland.

A new Washington Post poll has some good news and some not-so-good news for all three of these guys.

The good news: Very few voters have unfavorable views of Brown, Gansler or Franchot. The not-so-good news: Most voters don't know enough about them to have any view at all.

In fact, there is a little in the poll results to suggest that any of the three has much of a head start in what could be a crowded and competitive 2014 Democratic primary that might also include some other candidates not mentioned here.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Anthony Brown.jpgAs of May 2010, 20 percent of registered voters say they have a favorable impression of Brown, while 7 percent have an unfavorable impression and 73 percent have no opinion.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for gansler.jpgGansler's numbers are 18 percent favorable, 7 percent unfavorable and 74 percent no opinion.

Franchot mug.jpgFranchot: 20 percent favorable, 8 percent unfavorable and 72 percent no opinion.

All three were first elected to statewide offices in 2006 -- Brown on O'Malley's ticket, and Gansler and Franchot on their own. Their favorable numbers have barely budged since October 2008, the last time The Post asked a similar poll question.

It's not as though any of them has gone in hiding since getting elected. Gansler issued an opinion that Maryland should recognize same-sex marriages from out of state. Franchot led the unsuccessful fight against legalizing slot machines. Brown has been out front on domestic violence issues and coordinated Maryland's response to the federal base realignment and closure process.

Part of the lesson here is that for all the attention these guys get in Annapolis -- including talk about who's up, who's down, who's in and who's out -- their profile is pretty low in the rest of Maryland. That's true even in areas where they live.

Not surprisingly, Gansler's favorable number is highest in his home county of Montgomery, where he previously served for eight years as state's attorney. But even there, only 36 percent say they have a favorable impression.

Franchot represented part of Montgomery in the House of Delegates for 20 years. But his favorable number in Montgomery -- 22 percent -- is not significantly higher than statewide.

Brown's favorable number is 28 percent in his home county of Prince George's -- part of which he represented in the House of Delegates for eight years. A higher percentage of voters in Baltimore -- 31 percent -- say they have a favorable impression of him.

It will be worth watching how Brown, Gansler and Franchot use the 2010 election year to become better-known and better-positioned for 2014. You would expect them to seek as much exposure as possible in the heavily Democratic and vote-rich jurisdictions that will play a disproportionate role the 2014 primary for governor.

Franchot, for example, has embarked on a month-long Economic Listening Tour that made its first stop Wednesday in Prince George's County. His current favorable rating there: 12 percent.

-- John Wagner & Jennifer Agiesta

News You Should Know

Steele seen far less favorably than four years ago
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Steele.jpg"The past four years haven't helped the way Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele is seen by his fellow Marylanders," write The Post's John Wagner and Jennifer Agiesta. "In a new Washington Post poll, 37 percent of the state's registered voters say they have an unfavorable impression of the state's former lieutenant governor, while 33 percent view him favorably. Thirty percent offered no opinion. That's a sharp contrast to four years ago, when Steele was serving out his final year under former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and stepping out on his own to run an ultimately unsuccessful race for U.S. Senate."

Six in 10 approve of Mikulski job performance; 5 in 10 of Cardin
Mikulski mug.jpgCardin mug.jpgNearly six in 10 registered voters in Maryland approve of the job performance of Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), while about half approve of that of Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), according to a new Washington Post poll. In the poll, 58 percent said they approve of the job Mikulski is doing -- including 37 percent who "strongly approve." Twenty-six percent disapprove, and 16 percent have no opinion. Mikulski, Maryland's senior senator, is up for re-election this year, facing a crowded field of little-known Republicans. The poll exposed a sharp partisan divide in the way she is viewed. Eighty percent of Democrats approve of her job performance, compared to 23 percent of Republicans and 52 percent of independents. Cardin, the state's junior senator, has the approval of 48 percent of registered voters, according to the poll, while 21 percent disapprove and 31 percent have no opinion. Cardin was elected to the Senate in 2006 after serving 20 years in the House of Representatives. The partisan divide over his job performance is less pronounced. -- John Wagner & Jennifer Agiesta

Obama administration pledges new Bay cleanup commitment
Thumbnail image for Scenic bay.jpg"The Obama administration laid out an ambitious initiative Wednesday to purify 60 percent of the Chesapeake Bay's waters within 15 years, combining federal resources with a mandate that says states in the 64,000-square-mile watershed must develop the regulatory blueprint," writes The Post's Ashley Halsey III. "The announcement was made a day after the Environmental Protection Agency had settled a lawsuit brought by bay advocates in which the agency agreed to enforce tough new standards for the bay. And it comes a year after President Obama issued an executive order to revive faltering efforts to restore the polluted estuary."

Metro preparing to hike fares for peak-hour trips
Metro.jpg"Metro riders are bracing for their most extensive fare increases ever -- more than $102 million worth for next year, including surcharges of as much as 50 cents for peak rail trips -- as the financially beleaguered transit agency attempts to dig itself out of a deepening deficit," writes The Post's Ann Scott Tyson. "Metro's staff is requesting that its board of directors provide final guidance on the higher fares Thursday to allow time to put the bulk of the increases in place by the fiscal year that begins July 1."

Quotables

"Some of the people challenging I don't think are ready for prime time."
-- Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), assessing the quality of Democratic primary challengers for some Montgomery County seats in his chamber

"Prevaricators and dimwits are criticizing our endorsement of Bob Ehrlich as a betrayal of our conservative principles. We laugh at that charge of hypocrisy."
-- Red Maryland, defending its endorsement in the Maryland governor's race in a Wednesday blog post

"It's not what we want to do. It's much more fun to sit around a campfire and sing 'Kumbaya' than be in an adversarial position."
-- Montgomery County Board of Education President Patricia O'Neill (Bethesda-Chevy Chase), explaining the board's decision to take legal action against the county if the education budget is cut further

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Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics. Each Monday and Thursday, First Click brings you The Agenda, a concise, forward-looking analysis of a top development in politics or policy. "News You Should Know" breaks down top stories from across the state. And other features 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 John Wagner  |  May 13, 2010; 6:30 AM ET
Categories:  First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: Senior O'Malley aide joins reelection team

Comments

On the Bay, we've been down this road to nowhere how many times now? Unless Maryland cracks down hard on farmers, developers, and suburanites to stop their polluting ways, the Bay will continue to die.
On Metro, strap hangers unite, take the car, walk, or bike to work. Metro management cares little about the everyday commuter, they care only about their political egos and perks.

Posted by: VikingRider | May 13, 2010 4:07 PM | Report abuse

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