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First Click, Maryland -- A glimmer of emotion

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Thursday, June 17, 2010:

The Agenda
Aaron.jpgSo far, in the much ballyhooed rematch of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. (R), a scene Wednesday evening on a sidewalk in Annapolis was as good as it gets.

Ehrlich supporters heckled O'Malley as the "Tax Man" as he arrived to file for re-election. O'Malley supporters swarmed their opponents, shouting down the Republicans with chants. O'Malley slid out a side door, and the police even came.

Okay, in truth, a single Annapolis police officer came because he got a call that the sidewalk was blocked for tourists walking to early-bird specials. And, well, most anybody could have chosen to simply sidestep the entire spectacle, as there were only about 12 Republicans, and maybe twice as many green-clad O'Malley supporters.

But there could have been more.

DSC_0869.JPGSince O'Malley arrived an hour late and had to speed walk the three blocks of his touted "march" to the Board of Elections, more than half of his supporters were still trailing behind by a block or more when O'Malley encountered the opposition.

O'Malley, for the record, entered the Board of Elections at 4:59 p.m. (perhaps one minute short of today's Agenda having been dedicated to an analysis of whether it was correct for state elections officials to stay open late and make special accommodations for the governor).

DSC_0877.JPGAfter O'Malley finished his paperwork (at 5:05 p.m.), he exited through a back door where supporters quickly gathered in a parking lot, away from the couple remaining opponents out front. The governor joked about being late, and thanked his fans for outnumbering Ehrlich's. He then left quickly with the first shout of "tax man" from an Ehrlich supporter who located the gathering.

A similarly snarky back-and-forth played out in real time over Twitter. Staffers for the Maryland Republican Party questioned the enthusiasm of the turnout for the governor's event, tweeting that "tens of people" were on hand. Maryland Democrats responded by questioning the legality of Ehrlich's choice to remain as host of his weekly radio show until the candidates' July filing deadline.

Though it was no more than a nuisance, the show of Ehrlich supporters did seem to get under the skin of some in the O'Malley camp, and it may have muddled the image the campaign was hoping to project on the nightly news.

Here's guessing that O'Malley fans return the favor when Ehrlich files in coming weeks.

-- Aaron C. Davis

News You Should Know

Speakers' conference funded by slots industry, special interests
"More than 30 House speakers from across the country will be treated over the next four days to some of the best of what Maryland has to offer: a stay in one of Annapolis's swankiest hotels, a reception at the governor's mansion with a preeminent historian, a cruise on the Chesapeake Bay to an 185-year-old lighthouse, and a crab feast, historical re-enactment and fireworks display at Baltimore's Fort McHenry," writes The Post's John Wagner. "The tab for the 2010 National Speakers Conference -- hosted this year by Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) -- is expected to top $500,000, organizers say. And the bills for it will be paid by a few dozen local and national corporations, almost all of which have business before legislatures in Maryland and other states. Those helping underwrite this year's program, for instance, include at least four companies with a large stake in the success of Maryland's fledgling slot-machine gambling program.

Ehrlich: Rosecroft closure could have been avoided
Rosecroft.jpg"Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) pounced Wednesday on word that Rosecroft Raceway will soon close, calling the demise of the Prince George's County harness track "a sobering reminder of state government's failure to design a viable gaming program in Maryland," writes The Post's John Wagner. "Rosecroft would have been a beneficiary of slot-machine gambling proposals that Ehrlich introduced starting his first year in office in 2003. During Ehrlich's four years, debate over slots in the General Assembly ended in a bitter stalemate ... O'Malley said that slots would have been located only at racetracks "if I had my druthers" and noted that Rosecroft was not among the eligible site because the Prince George's legislative delegation opposed the idea."

Gay rights group: 'Maryland is next'
"An e-mail message sent Tuesday from Equality Maryland, the state's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights group says it is assembling "Action Teams" to mobilize pro- same-sex marriage voters to get to the polls in November," writes The Post's Aaron C. Davis. "The e-mail also reveals the group has a high-dollar reception scheduled next week to "thank" Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) for his legal opinion in February that has led to state agencies beginning to offer same-sex couples from elsewhere equal rights as Maryland's heterosexual ones. ... The group's stepped up election-year effort follows a legislative session in which debate over same-sex marriage played a central role, but at the outset of a gubernatorial race in which neither leading candidate has embraced same-sex marriage."

Parole part of investigation in trooper's death
trooperbrown.jpg"The lead suspect in the slaying of a Maryland State Police trooper had been supervised under Maryland's Violence Prevention Initiative, a program Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) established to create a zero-tolerance policy for criminals considered most likely to commit further violent crimes," reports The Washington Post. "Under that program, warrants are often issued if those on probation or parole miss just one scheduled meeting with a case manager. Late last year, however, Williams was ratcheted down to a level called intensive supervision. Instead of three face-to-face meetings a week, and mandatory phone interviews, Williams was required only to check in twice a month after he had made dozens of required meetings, stayed employed and passed drug tests ... In March, Williams missed one of his two monthly meetings with his agent, but under his new, lower level of supervision, that was no longer a violation for which the state would typically seek a warrant."


"I saw that you swarmed the pessimists, the naysayers and the cynics, that was a pretty good representation. Let's hope the electorate breaks the same way in November."
DSC_0882.JPG-- Gov. Martin O'Malley on Wednesday thanking supporters for outnumbering opponents who heckled him as he entered the Board of Elections to file papers for re-election.

Busch.jpg"I didn't press anybody on what they should contribute."
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D) explaining how he raised roughly $500,000 to host a conference this week of the more than 30 house speakers. Busch said he sent solicitations to several dozen corporations that helped sponsor past conferences, as well as to some Maryland companies that had not donated before. He said he also made some phone calls. Among dozens of others who have business before the state, and that contributed money: Constellation Energy and the law firm of Peter Angelos, the owner of the Orioles each gave $25,000.


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 Aaron C. Davis  |  June 17, 2010; 8:29 AM ET
Categories:  First Click  
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