First Click, Maryland -- Clambaked
Your morning download of Maryland political news
Thursday, July 22, 2010:
"A must-attend event," Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) called it. "A political rite of passage."
"A must-stop in an election year," said former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) .
With those similar assessments, coming a few minutes apart, Maryland's two major candidates for governor arrived at the 34th Annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield, where both would spend the next couple of hours working the sprawling crowd outside the town's marina, their running mates in tow.
In many respects, Wednesday's sweat-drenched affair was a metaphor for this year's campaign: two very well-known candidates, occupying the same familiar territory but never actually engaging one another. The two hopefuls were so familiar, in fact, that many of the 5,000 or so in attendance seemed unmoved by their presence as they enjoyed the $40 all-you-can-eat-and-drink assortment of steamed crabs, fried fish, clams, corn on the cob, watermelon and beer.
Perhaps the only surprise of the afternoon was the extent to which the O'Malley team out-organized the Ehrlich camp. As festival-goers arrived at the event site in the Eastern Shore community, they were greeted by far more neon-green O'Malley signs, of all sizes and assortments, than those advertising Ehrlich's comeback campaign. When the current governor arrived about 2 p.m., he was a greeted by a larger, more boisterous, more orchestrated group of supporters and volunteers than was the former governor -- who hung back in a parking lot until the Democratic incumbent moved on before making his entrance.
It's not clear that the contrast necessarily worked against Ehrlich. A large part of the Republican's appeal is his ability to relate to voters on their level. Minutes after a throng of reporters peppered O'Malley with questions about policy and campaign strategy, Ehrlich told the same group that he was there hoping "to just have fun today." Later asked by a reporter about the importance of the clambake to the campaign, Ehrlich responded with typical bluntness, saying: "It's not that important to the overall race."
The two running mates -- Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) and former secretary of state Mary D. Kane (R) -- both appeared to put a little more thought into their outfits than their principals. O'Malley and Ehrlich both donned polo shirts that they no doubt had received gratis for being governor. Ehrlich wore shorts.
As always, the event drew dozens of other politicians seeking statewide and local offices. Brian Murphy, a long-shot Republican candidate for governor, was on hand, with a merry band of supporters, as were some of the largely unknown GOP candidates with dreams of toppling Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) this year.
Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) stood out for his congeniality. As Ehrlich worked some of the tents sponsored by corporations and candidates, Franchot went out of his way to say hello and shake hands. In their long, overlapping political careers, the two have often had unkind things to say about one another. But at Tawes, it was all smiles. Ehrlich even said he looked forward to working again with Franchot.
At that point, a spokesman for the comptroller was quick to point out to a lurking reporter that Franchot had greeted the current governor as well.
News You Should Know
More TV ads from the O'Malley campaign
"Gov. Martin O'Malley on Wednesday released a series of four more television ads that will air in the Baltimore area in coming days. In the ads, O'Malley touts what he calls innovative efforts by his administration to create jobs, including leasing the Port of Baltimore in a deal that led to construction and other jobs," writes The Post's Aaron C. Davis. "The ads maintain a course away from the negative radio ads that drew mixed, and sometimes negative reviews for O'Malley's campaign early this summer when he began asserting that former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s role in a law firm for the past four years amounted to little more than being a lobbyist. The new ads highlight the already prominent election-year theme of job creation. In one, O'Malley trumpets the state's efforts to lure General Motors to build an electric drive plant in Baltimore County. In another, he focuses on loan assistance for small businesses -- a message that dovetails with a roundtable with small business leaders that he has scheduled for Thursday morning in Baltimore. The fourth, about a bicycle shop in Hyattsville, raises another question: When will O'Malley -- or either campaign -- begin running ads in the Washington market? Ehrlich has yet to run a paid ad."
O'Malley to meet with business lenders
"Gov. Martin O'Malley will meet with Maryland bankers Thursday to discuss ways of improving businesses' access to loans and other forms of credit," writes Gary Haber of the Baltimore Business Journal. "The roundtable discussion comes after President Barack Obama on Wednesday signed a financial regulatory reform bill that promises the most sweeping changes to the banking industry since the New Deal. While the guest list was still being finalized Wednesday morning, the forum will include bankers from financial institutions of all sizes, ranging from large national and regional banks to smaller community banks, said O'Malley spokesman Shaun Adamec."
O'Donnell presses O'Malley on death of juvenile teacher
"House minority leader Del. Anthony J. O'Donnell is demanding answers about the February death of a teacher at a state juvenile facility in Prince George's County. O'Donnell, who represents Calvert County, said it is inexcusable that five months have elapsed and yet no charges have been filed in the killing -- even though investigators quickly identified a 13-year-old suspect," writes The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz. "O'Donnell, a frequent critic of DJS, says Gov. Martin O'Malley must be held accountable for the lack of movement in the case and said he can't help but wonder if the delays are politically motivated."
Montgomery planning agency to close doors for a week
"First, it was a plan to get rid of portable toilets in Montgomery County parks, since abandoned for the summer," writes The Post's Miranda Spivack. "Then, the county parks agency announced that on Aug. 1, it will charge dog owners $40 a year for one dog and $5 for each additional dog to use the county's dog parks, complete with tickets from park police for violators. Now the county's planning agency has announced that it will shut down during the first week of August, at an estimated savings of $500,000."
"I know they have a presence here, so good for them. This isn't a place where any voters' minds are changed."
-- Greg Massoni, senior adviser to former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), as quoted in The Baltimore Sun, on the turnout of supporters at the Tawes clambake in Crisfield
"Let's go do this and get something to eat -- and get something to drink!"
-- Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), arriving at Tawes, where temperatures hovered in the 90s
"This is tradition. It's about as Maryland as it gets."
-- former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) on Tawes
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July 22, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: First Click , John Wagner
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