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Monday, June 28, 2010:

WagnerThere's an adage in politics that people tend to vote for the top of the ticket. Whether the race is for president or governor, the selection of a running mate draws great attention but ultimately matters little by the time voters cast their ballots, the thinking goes.

So here we go again. Much of the week is bound to be dominated by speculation over whom former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) will name as the person he would like to see as Maryland's next lieutenant governor. Whether the announcement, expected Thursday, changes many votes in Ehrlich's rematch against Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) is another matter.

If nothing else, running mate selections can tell us something about candidates on the top of the ticket -- what qualities they value, where they think they need help winning votes and how they go about making decisions. Ehrlich is such a known quantity that it's hard to imagine this selection will do much to better define him. But it may offer a window into how he plans to win this race.

Much of the buzz over the weekend continued to center on Mary D. Kane, the former secretary of state under Ehrlich and wife of John Kane, a former Maryland Republican Party chairman and well-known Washington-area businessman. In an informal survey of Republican insiders and other students of Maryland politics, Mary Kane was mentioned more often than anyone else as the probable Ehrlich pick.

Thumbnail image for Ehrlich hand.jpgKane, who has been appearing at numerous Ehrlich events, as if auditioning for the part, would be a logical choice in several respects. She lives in Montgomery County, a jurisdiction in which Ehrlich has underperformed in his previous gubernatorial runs and one he has said he is targeting this year. Kane is also a woman, a demographic which has never been Ehrlich's strongest.

There is also significant chatter that Ehrlich is trying to nail down a commitment in coming days from someone else who would be a much bolder pick. "Game changer" was a term used by more than insider who spoke on the condition that they not be identified.

There was no consensus over whom this person might be, but former Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan's name was thrown out as an example. Duncan, of course, ran in the Democratic primary against O'Malley for years ago and has made clear in repeated public statements that he has not been impressed with O'Malley's tenure.

Ehrlich has shown a flair for the bold in previous picks: In 2002, he tappedMichael S. Steele, who became the state's first African American lieutenant governor and now, of course, is chairman of the Republican National Committee. In his losing effort in 2006, Ehrlich picked Kristen Cox, who is legally blind.

A few other names for 2010 were still in circulation over the weekend, includingAudrey E. Scott, the current Republican party chairwoman, and Larry Hogan, who ended his own exploratory bid for governor this year once it became clear that Ehrlich would get in the race.

Scott, whose spunk believes her age, would be a nod to Maryland's seniors. She is also a former mayor of Bowie and former member of the Prince George's County Council. And she served as Ehrlich's secretary of planning during his tenure as governor.

Hogan, who was Ehrlich's appointments secretary, arguably would be the best fit from a governing perspective. His drawback is that he, like Ehrlich, is a white male who lives in Annapolis.

With the July 6 filing deadline rapidly approaching, we should also hear picks in coming days from the race's two second-tier candidates: Republican Brian Murphy and Democrat George W. Owings III.

So stay tuned. There should be plenty to talk about.

-- John Wagner

News You Should Know

O'Malley radio ads signal another negative contest with Ehrlich
Thumbnail image for o'malley.JPG"Gov. Martin O'Malley is inundating Marylanders this weekend with two negative radio ads seeking to portray former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. as perhaps the only thing worse this year than an incumbent politician: a lobbyist working for big oil," writes The Post's Aaron C. Davis. "One ad, dubbed 'Drill, Baby, Drill,' is a comic-style mashup of Ehrlich using those very words more than a year ago on his talk-radio show. The other jabs Ehrlich for an on-air remark that he's made 'a lot of money' since leaving office four years ago working for a law firm with an extensive lobbying arm. ... The ads have jarred to life what had been a sleepy campaign for governor and indicate that O'Malley (D) and Ehrlich (R) intend to resume the same sort of in-the-mud and in-your-face tactics that both employed when they faced off four years ago."

Oil seeps into high-profile congressional race as well
kratovil-o'malley.JPG"Gulf oil coated state politics last week as Democrats in Maryland's two highest-profile contests tried to tar their likely Republican opponents with the BP spill," writes The Baltimore Sun's Annie Linskey. "Maryland Republicans responded with indignation: Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. accused Gov. Martin O'Malley of 'seeking to take advantage of the tragedy.' The Maryland Republican Party, sticking up for congressional hopeful Andy Harris, scolded Rep. Frank Kratovil for trying to 'capitalize' on the 'worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.' Attempts to link candidates in Maryland to a disaster that is playing out in waters 1,400 miles away might seem a stretch, but the tactic is bubbling up in campaigns across the country and in races at all levels."

Ruling pulls slots referendum from Anne Arundel ballot
Thumbnail image for aaslots.jpg"An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court judge struck down a ballot referendum Friday challenging a planned slots parlor at Arundel Mills mall, a decision that opponents have vowed to appeal to the state's highest court," writes The Sun's Nicole Fuller. "The referendum is not legal, Judge Ronald A. Silkworth ruled, because the zoning legislation to authorize the billion-dollar casino is part of an appropriation package. According to state law, appropriations -- or spending allowances -- cannot be decided upon by voters at the ballot box. The ruling represents a victory for the Baltimore-based Cordish Cos., an influential developer whose planned casino could be one of the state's most lucrative. Still, the judge rejected many of the company's highest-profile complaints, which focused on alleged fraud in the signature-gathering process."

Johnson appears to support Jackson in Prince George's
Jack B. Johnson.jpg"For some, the headline on a recent blog item said it all: 'Prince George's County Government Endorses Michael Jackson,' " writes The Post's Jonathan Mummolo. "The June 2 message on Maryland Politics Watch -- it was tongue-in-cheek; no such endorsement has occurred -- referred to a large campaign sign for Michael A. Jackson (D), the Prince George's sheriff and a candidate for county executive, on the county-owned lawn of a volunteer firehouse in Capitol Heights. The sign, on the aptly named Sheriff Road, was gone Friday after the county received complaints that it was an ethics violation and asked the campaign to remove it, county officials said. But for some observers and participants in this year's contest for the county's top seat, the image has lingered, symbolizing something many have suspected for months: County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D) may be quietly lending his support to Jackson in the race."

Del. Elmore succumbs to recurring cancer
Page Elmore.jpg"D. Page Elmore, a Republican delegate who provided a voice for watermen and farmers in Annapolis, died Saturday following a battle with recurring cancer. He was 71," writes Greg Latshaw of The Daily Times. "Elmore, who served as chairman of the Eastern Shore Delegation, represented District 38A, an area covering southern Wicomico and Somerset counties. Elmore knew his condition was terminal and announced June 19 he would not seek a third term."


"For security purposes, I'm not able to speak about that. I myself don't even know when it happened; they wouldn't tell me."
-- Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, as quoted in the Baltimore Sun in a story about the five men on Maryland's death row quietly moving from the hulking Baltimore prison once known as Supermax to a Western Maryland facility hailed recently as one of the most technologically advanced maximum-security prisons in the United States.

"This will be the 'The Kendel Ehrlich Show' going forward. ... It has been a lot of fun."
-- former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), signing off on the final installment of the "The Kendel and Bob Ehrlich Show" on WBAL radio Saturday as he prepares to officially file for office.

"I can't change what's happened. The only thing I can do now is move forward and hope that the people will understand that there's an element of risk when you take on a new venture, and sometimes things don't go exactly as we hope."
-- Calvert County delegate hopeful Bob Schaefer, who will continue his candidacy, The Gazette reports, despite calls from the local GOP that he drop out of the race after punching fellow Republican candidate Mark Fisher two weeks ago.


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  |  June 28, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  First Click , John Wagner  
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One of the primary reasons Ehrlich lost in 2006, was his poor choice of running mates. One of the primary reason Ehrlich won in 2002 was his wise choice of running mates.

An appropriate choice in 2010 would be an African American woman. I would highly recommend Sharon Pinder, the state's first Secretary of Minority Affairs.

Ehrlich/Pinder is a bold winning ticket anyway you look at it.

Posted by: mebwlr | June 28, 2010 7:16 AM | Report abuse

No matter who ehrlich picks as a running mate, there is still a loser at the top of the ticket.
it's too bad the republicans couldnt field a real candidate this year. im tired of reruns.

Posted by: MarilynManson | June 28, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Nice insight on the LG choice, John.

Posted by: DANIELVOVAK | June 28, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

If Doug Duncan is crazy enough to be Ehrlichs LG, his political career is over. But the chances of whoever Ehrlich picks making a difference in this Dem dominated state, are slim to none.

Posted by: VikingRider | June 28, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

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