First Click, Maryland -- Big Oil rules
Your morning download of Maryland political news
Monday, June 21, 2010:
What a difference a few days make. One day, in fact.
As First Click reported here Thursday morning, a minor face off between supporters of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. (R) was the most action we'd seen in weeks in the governor's race.
What ensued in the following few hours, however, escalated tension between the two candidates to a new level and seemed to chart a new course for the contest.
A day after officially filing to seek re-election, O'Malley went on the offensive, launching an attack ad seeking to portray Ehrlich as an agent of Big Oil and linking him to the disaster in the Gulf. (He also challenged his likely Republican challenger on transportation issues, but that effort was quickly overshadowed by the explosive radio ad).
In essence, the ad says Ehrlich has spent the past four years acting as a lobbyist. It's a charge Ehrlich, who has never registered as a lobbyist, characterized as blatantly false.
You can listen to O'Malley's oil ad and see the text of it; read about the rebuke the oil ad drew from Ehrlich, and assess the counter claims published by the O'Malley campaign about why Ehrlich actually has been a lobbyist.
But merits of the attack aside, the effect so far has been clear: It has thrust both campaigns onto the same page for the first time since April, and left Ehrlich on the defensive, explaining his own record rather than going after O'Malley's.
As the ad aired over the weekend on radio stations in Baltimore and across the Eastern Shore, targeting beach traffic, Ehrlich remained focused on attempting to discredit it.
On his Saturday radio show on WBAL, Ehrlich called the ad "shockingly false." And was forced to repeatedly address it after callers latched on. (The Baltimore Sun's TV critic David Zurawik even questioned the origin of the negative sentiments: "while I have no evidence that the negative callers Saturday were in any way part of an organized partisan effort, they certainly were effective in getting under Ehrlich's skin ...")
And so the week begins with a few questions: How long will Ehrlich remain on the defensive? Will he respond with his own ad war? And is the race bound to only become more negative?
News You Should Know
Hundreds turn out for funeral for slain Maryland State Trooper
"The montage of photos that flickered across three jumbo screens before the service got underway in the vast church sanctuary captured the life of Wesley Brown with a silent eloquence that rivaled anything two dozen speakers would say about him in the three hours that followed," writes The Post's Ashley Halsey III. "On Saturday, the people who surrounded him in those cheerful photos filed solemnly into Jericho City of Praise church in Landover to mourn the man with that smile who had been gunned down at age 24, allegedly by an angry patron outside an Applebee's restaurant eight days earlier. His family and the woman he planned to marry, 28 young men for whom he became a father figure, the troopers he trained with and those he worked with, hundreds of other uniformed officers from throughout the region and as far away as Vermont, and row after row of politicians.
Jobless rates in MD, DC and VA fall again in May
"Unemployment rates in the District, Maryland and Virginia fell in May, according to government data released Friday, marking the second consecutive monthly decline for all three jurisdictions and illustrating the growing recovery in the region's labor market," writes The Post's V. Dion Haynes. "The District's drop in unemployment was the most dramatic of the three localities, falling to 10.4 percent from 11 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Maryland, the rate decreased to 7.2 percent from 7.5 percent, while Virginia's rate fell to 7.1 percent from 7.2 percent. The declines are attributable to real job growth in the public and private sectors, analysts said, rather than an artificial deflation of the rates caused by a reduction in the labor force that occurs when long-term "discouraged" unemployed people stop looking for work."
O'Malley moves state Housing agency to Prince George's
"Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced Friday that the state Department of Housing and Community Development will move its headquarters from Anne Arundel County to Prince George's, the first state agency to relocate to the county," writes The Post's Ovetta Wiggins. "The department, which works on rental housing, neighborhood revitalization and foreclosure- prevention programs, will move more than 330 employees from its Crownsville site to a location that has yet to be determined. O'Malley, who made the announcement outside the Naylor Road Metro station in Temple Hills, said moving the agency from "a wooded area" in Anne Arundel, to a location near a Metro station in Prince George's "is an excellent opportunity for smarter, cleaner growth." The decision fulfills a commitment O'Malley made to Prince George's residents four years ago and comes as he campaigns for reelection against former governor Robert L. Erhlich Jr. (R). The timing could help O'Malley in the county, where he may need a strong showing by Prince George's voters in November to win a second term.
Both parties eyeing first early voting in Maryland
"Republicans and Democrats are plotting strategy to take advantage of the state's new early-voting rules, which are expected to stretch the traditional Election Day get-out-the-vote frenzy to a week," writes The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey. "Beginning with the primary elections in September, the rules will give voters six extra days to cast their ballots. It will be the first time the state has allowed early voting since it was approved by ballot initiative two years ago. Democrats, who enjoy a 2-1 edge over Republicans in voter registration, say the change will give them more opportunity to get the party faithful to the polls, and help them strengthen their hold on power. But Republicans say relying on registration will backfire this year. They say the rules will make it easier for angry Marylanders to cast their votes to send the majority party packing.
"Even for a campaign ad, this is shockingly false." O'Malley's ad is "obviously, clearly out of bounds."
--former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr., at the outset of "The Kendel and Bob Ehrlich" show Saturday on Baltimore's WBAL.
"I think people are offended by it."
--Kendel Ehrlich said in another on-air comment.
"On its website, Womble Carlyle states that their government affairs division is 'led by Governor Ehrlich' and that its 'Maryland team has the access to ensure that our clients' interests are represented in legislative debates at the state, local and federal levels.' Bob Ehrlich may not like the ad exposing his record standing with Big Oil and special interests, but it's his record and -- in his own words."
--Gov. Martin O'Malley's campaign manager, Tom Russell, responding to criticism of the ad on the campaign's Web site.
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Aaron C. Davis
June 21, 2010; 9:16 AM ET
Categories: First Click
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