First Click, Maryland -- Good Day Sunshine (for Md. Dems)
Your morning download of Maryland political news
July 15, 2010:
If you're a hardcore Maryland Democrat, does it get any better than today? Get your blood pumping this morning with a fist-pumping rally against Bob Ehrlich, demanding "the truth" about his role in a failed Maryland bank. And then cool down this afternoon with a "Buy Local" barbecue with Gov. Martin O'Malley and family at the governor's mansion. (Complete with Maryland crab and goat cheese empanadas and "Rosemary Lollipop of Maryland Beef").
And if you're a Maryland Dem, why not kick back? It's Day 4 of feel-good, summer fun-filled week for the party faithful. On Monday, labor leaders rallied at the State House. On Tuesday, O'Malley basked in his NEA "Greatest Education Governor" award and Maryland schools-are-number-one mantra, saying he wants to cut AP course fees. And on Wednesday, the governor married environmental and economic themes with a "Green Economy Forum" seeking to create 100,000 new jobs. And the good times show no sign of slowing down before the weekend: On Friday, O'Malley will be on hand for the official opening of a biopharmaceutical company's manufacturing plant in Baltimore, and receive the 2010 Maryland "Minority Contractors Champion" award.
If you're thinking this was all just about the governor, think again: Rep. Frank Kratovil (D) on Wednesday narrowly outraised state Sen. Andy Harris (R) in the second quarter of the year. Kratovil retook the initiative after Harris had beaten him in the previous two quarters. A new poll showed the ever-popular Sen. Barbara Mikulski now has an even higher favorable rating among Republicans than either of her two Republican challengers. And despite some other issues going on in Washington, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer this week got to beat the drum on one of his favorite topics, touting new estimates that the federal stimulus package created or saved 2 million (or maybe 3 million) jobs.
Despite Maryland Dems' somewhat exhausting week of good news, one grating question must remain for O'Malley and Co.: Is anyone (outside the party faithful) paying attention?
Maryland Dems' rally week closes out amid a new round of questions about how much the national political climate could weigh down state elections in November.
The week began with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs declaring that "there is no doubt there are enough seats at play that could cause Republicans to gain control" of the House. And then, as The Post's Howard Kurtz described it, "a WP/ABC poll contained more bad news for the president's party, with Obama down to 43 percent approval and seven in 10 registered voters saying they have no confidence in either Democratic or Republican lawmakers."
As Kurtz writes, "although that might seem a bipartisan rejection, the reality is that more Dems will wind up being punished -- both because their party can be blamed for the mess in Washington and because plenty of marginal members were swept in during the 2006 and 2008 campaigns."
Obama remains more popular in Maryland than nationally, but he's also not on the ballot. The biggest question for Democrats, despite a 2-to-1 advantage in voter registration, is how many newly registered and half-tuned-in Democrats will be inspired to turn out to vote in November.
At the barbecue this afternoon, they'll be serving Carroll County's Cygnus Royale Blanc de Blanc Brut sparkling wine. We'll have to wait until November to see who opens the champagne.
-- Aaron C. Davis
News You Should Know
Foreclosures in Prince George's again lead Maryland
"When it comes to foreclosures, Prince George's County still is ground zero in Maryland, as the state continues to have one of the nation's highest foreclosure rates," writes Lindsey Robbins in the Gazette. "Foreclosures accounted for 34.6 percent of the county's total home sales in the first quarter, according to data from RealtyTrac of Irvine, Calif., a foreclosure research company. That was the highest percentage in Maryland, with Washington County the only other county higher than 25 percent. Prince George's total of 881 foreclosure filings in the quarter was well above that of the next county, Montgomery, which saw 704 filings. The rate continues to increase, despite state officials creating a Homeownership Preservation Task Force and trying measures to stanch the bleeding. The state's new foreclosure mediation law took effect this month.
Nonprofit connected to Pr. George's exec candidate under investigation
A nonprofit once headed by Prince George's County executive candidate Rushern L. Baker III is under state investigation for failing to disclose its finances for several consecutive years, reports Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner. According to The Examiner, Baker's group, "Community Teachers Institute Inc., is in violation of a state law requiring nonprofits to submit financial information annually, according to the Maryland Secretary of State's Office. The nonprofit was running a nearly $500,000 deficit in 2006, the latest financial documentation on file with the state indicates.
Baker campaign spokesman James Adams said Tuesday that the charity submitted financial records for the missing years June 18, but Richard Morris, charities director for the Secretary of State's Office, said he has not received the documentation."
Ehrlich says he'll air TV ads when he's ready
"Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) gave no indication Wednesday about when his campaign would join the advertising war in the Maryland governor's race, saying 'that is a call that will not be dictated to us,' " writes The Post's John Wagner. "Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) launched his first television ad of the campaign Monday, touting his fiscal leadership in a spot called "Tough Choices" that is airing in the Baltimore market. O'Malley previously had put up several negative radio ads on Baltimore area and Eastern Shore stations. 'The general rule is you don't want the opposition to be up a long time, but these ads are the object of scorn,' Ehrlich said. 'We could have been on the air weeks ago if we wanted to.' "
Lucky 13 for Maryland lottery sales
The Maryland Lottery is reporting its 13th straight year of record sales, according to the Associated Press. "The lottery announced the proceeds for fiscal year 2010 on Wednesday. The lottery is reporting nearly $510 million in revenue for fiscal year 2010. That's $16.5 million more than the previous fiscal year. It's also the second-highest return in the lottery's history in Maryland. Fiscal year 2010 saw the addition of Powerball in Maryland. The multistate jackpot game registered nearly $29 million in sales."
State keeps AAA bond rating
Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch Ratings all affirmed Maryland's triple-A bond rating, Treasurer Nancy Kopp announced Wednesday. Maryland remains one of only eight states to have the high bond rating, writes Bloomberg News. Kopp says the rating will allow Maryland to get the lowest possible interest rate in an upcoming bond sale of about $490 million July 28.
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Aaron C. Davis
July 15, 2010; 7:56 AM ET
Categories: Aaron C. Davis , First Click
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