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First Click, Maryland -- Facing the books

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Monday, August 16, 2010:

The Agenda

WagnerSo we now have an answer to the first of a dozen questions posed in this space two weeks ago, and it's ... 3:1.

By way of reminder, the question -- part of a "Your turn to play pundit" quiz -- was this:

1) When the current fundraising period closes on Aug. 10, will the ratio of Gov. Martin O'Malley's cash-on-hand to former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s cash-on-hand be closer to 1:1, 2:1 or 3:1?

This week, we should learn more about why the correct answer turned out to be 3:1.

The cash-on-hand figures published last week by The Post and other media outlets -- $6.7 million for O'Malley (D), less than $2.1 million for Ehrlich (R) -- were based on information voluntarily released by the two campaigns.

On Tuesday, the candidates are required to submit detailed campaign finance reports to the State Board of Elections. Usually, the most analyzed part of these reports is the donor list. In Ehrlich's case, however, the list of expenditures could prove just as interesting.

Ehrlich reported raising $3.2 million for the seven-month period and said that almost all of that came in after he announced his candidacy in early April. That means Ehrlich -- who had about $150,000 in the bank as of mid-January -- spent at least $1.2 million during this stretch. And he did so without airing a single television ad.

How?

Ehrlich FB.jpgPart of the answer, we think, reflects Ehrlich's heavy focus on new media -- and social networking, in particular.

If the election were determined by Facebook fans rather than voters, Ehrlich would win in a landslide of epic proportions. As of 6:30 a.m., 37,766 people had indicated they "like" Ehrlich's Facebook page, compared to only 15,978 for O'Malley's page.

Bob is no doubt a popular guy, but a Maryland politician doesn't get that well-liked without a little help from advertising -- which costs money. Beyond Facebook, Ehrlich ads are also popping up in great numbers elsewhere on the Web.

The newfangled outreach to voters is interesting. The jury is still out on how effective it is.

Facebook is no doubt a way to keep a candidate's base engaged. The 37,766 Ehrlich fans get a couple of posts a day that include information about where Ehrlich is campaigning, links to favorable news stories and promotional videos produced by the campaign. And friends of Ehrlich's fans on Facebook get some of this passed along to them as well.

But just to keep matters in perspective: In 2006, Ehrlich received 825,464 votes -- which was 116,815 fewer than O'Malley.

Is Facebook -- and other social media -- a good way to move persuadable voters? That is one more question on which we would welcome your input. Unlike the 12 questions in the quiz from two weeks ago, the answer to this one cannot be measured so precisely.

FB image.jpgBefore moving on, we should note that our Maryland Politics blog has a Facebook page. If you're not already a fan, you of course should be.

-- John Wagner


News You Should Know

Much at stake for many in Prince George's primary
Prince George's family.jpg"With the Sept. 14 primary less than a month away, residents in Prince George's will choose among five candidates for a new county executive, 45 contenders for nine County Council spots, and 37 rivals vying for the nine-member school board, as well as a new sheriff and a new top prosecutor," writes The Post's Miranda Spivack. "But some residents say more is at stake. Voters find themselves at a crossroads as they decide the direction for a diverse and sprawling county of nearly 900,000 residents who seek the fulfillment of the long-standing promise of a comfortable suburban lifestyle."

Candidates for governor double down on Rosecroft
Rosecroft sign.jpg"The future of Rosecroft Raceway remains very much in doubt, but the recently shuttered harness track in Prince George's County certainly is getting some high-level attention during this election year," writes The Post's John Wagner, in a piece that looks at recent visits to the track by former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and an official dispatched by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).

Economy flat but political spending up in Baltimore
"The economy is still on shaky ground," writes The Baltimore Sun's David Zurawik. "The state has few major primary showdowns. And by the general elections, there will likely be only a handful of top-dollar, hotly contested races here. Yet political ad spending on Baltimore television could break the 2006 record of $17 million by the midterm elections on Nov. 2. Local radio is going to have a banner year as well, analysts say, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling opening the floodgates on advocacy advertising. Meanwhile, deep-pocketed Democrats will be spending big over the airwaves to counter anti-incumbent sentiment in these contentious times."

PSC summoning Pepco brass to Baltimore on Tuesday
"The Maryland commission that regulates utilities has launched an investigation into Pepco, the Washington area's largest electricity provider, following the third major storm-related power outage in as many weeks," writes The Post's Aaron C. Davis. "The Maryland Public Service Commission said the loss of power to nearly a half million people since July 25 has raised questions about 'the reliability ... and the quality of distribution service Pepco is providing its customers.' The commission, which is appointed by the governor, has asked Pepco's chief operating officer and other senior company officials to attend a hearing in Baltimore on Tuesday."

Edwards, Hoyer, Van Hollen get nod on Post editorial page
Donna Edwards mug.jpgIn an editorial this morning, The Post endorses Donna F. Edwards, along with Steny H. Hoyer and Chris Van Hollen. The rationale for Edwards begins this way: "FINISHING HER first full term in the House representing Maryland's 4th Congressional District, Rep. Donna F. Edwards is an unapologetic liberal of the old school. She is a champion of labor unions, a skeptic on free trade and a doubter when it comes to projecting American force overseas. We may not always agree with her, but we admire the energy, hard work and intelligence that informs her work as a legislator."

Quotables

Another Palin.jpg"I gotta go digest this choice."
-- Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), as quoted in The Baltimore Sun in 2008, shortly after John McCain announced he was adding Sarah Palin to his presidential ticket. Palin has now endorsed Brian Murphy, Ehrlich's long-shot opponent, in the 2010 GOP primary for governor.

Brian Murphy.jpg"What makes Palin's endorsement so lame is that she's never laid eyes on Murphy or talked policy with him. She knows less about him than John McCain knew about her when he picked Palin as his 2008 running mate."
-- Barry Rascovar in his column in The Gazette on Friday

"The issue is not that Palin, thrust upon the national stage with little warning, still doesn't know all the details. That's understandable. The issue is that she rarely appears to have the slightest grasp of what she's talking about."
-- Newsweek columnist Jacob Weisberg, in a piece adapted from his book The Accidental Wit and Wisdom of Sarah Palin

"She's an icon."
-- Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy after getting Palin's endorsement


-----

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  |  August 16, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: Murphy says he raised $250K, has $40K in the bank

Comments

So in a heavily Democratic state, why is it news that the incumbent Dem gov has tripled the cash that the has been GOP former gov has?
Come on, do some real reporting. Like why don't you do a better job of covering Moco politics? All I get from Wapo is an anti union rant, if this is the best you have for Moco political coverage, I guess I'll go elsewhere for local news.

Posted by: VikingRider | August 16, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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