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First Click, Maryland -- What to watch on Tuesday

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Monday, September 13, 2010:

The Agenda

WagnerFollowing tepid interest in early voting, Maryland polling stations will reopen in about 24 hours for Primary Day. Here are a half-dozen things that will have our attention, in both statewide and local contests.

1. Who will face Barbara Mikulski?

Maryland's senior senator is widely expected to win re-election in November, but the identity of her Republican opponent should be known by Tuesday night.

Thumbnail image for Mikulski podium.jpgAs our colleague Ben Pershing writes: "Sen. Barbara Mikulski is expected to secure the Democratic nomination with ease against six opponents. On the Republican side, 11 candidates are jousting for the right to face the heavily favored Mikulski in the fall. Queen Anne's County Commissioner Eric Wargotz is the best-funded and most visible GOP candidate, having aired a buzz-generating television ad comparing Mikulski to a dinosaur -- 'insidersaurus.' Attorney Jim Rutledge has also stirred some enthusiasm for his campaign among conservative activists."

2. What share of the vote will Brian Murphy get in the GOP primary for governor?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Murphy on street.jpgAs we wrote in the paper over the weekend: "Virtually no one outside [Brian] Murphy's loyal band of aides gives him any chance of upsetting former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) on Tuesday. But guessing the share of voters who will ... [support] a political novice has become somewhat of a parlor game among Maryland political insiders. One of the few public polls that have tested Murphy's strength put him at 13 percent late last month. Since then, some pundits have suggested he could draw as much of a third of the primary vote -- enough to embarrass Ehrlich as he heads into the November general election against Gov. Martin O'Malley (D)."

Despite his insistence that Tuesday will be just another day of his general election campaign against O'Malley, Ehrlich has announced a "primary night celebration and media availability" at a Federal Hill tavern in Baltimore.

O'Malley, who faces only token opposition on Tuesday's ballot, campaigned Sunday in vote-rich Prince George's County, arguing "we have served the good people in the toughest of times."

3. How many state senators will get knocked off by delegates from their districts?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Maryland Senate.jpgAs we wrote the other day: "In eight primaries that will be settled Tuesday -- including four in Montgomery (County) -- incumbent state senators are being challenged by current or former delegates from their district. And most of these races haven't been pretty. ... Although some races have showcased ideological divides, others seem driven more by personality." In most of these contests, the winner of Tuesday's primary is all but guaranteed victory in November. We'll be looking to see what, if anything, we can learn about the mood out there based on who prevails.

There are also a handful of interesting primaries for the House of Delegates, including an expensive one in Montgomery's District 16, as our colleague Miranda Spivack detailed over the weekend.

4. Who will lead Prince George's County?

Dean photo.jpgThe race to succeed Jack B. Johnson (D) as county executive in Prince George's County will be effectively resolved Tuesday, with former state delegate Rushern L. Baker III (D) and Sheriff Michael Jackson (D) leading the pack. Both were among those on the campaign trail Sunday, as we write in today's paper in a story that also notes: "Prince George's Democratic voters face a challenging task Tuesday. They must sort through an array of contenders: not only the five candidates for county executive, but also 45 contenders for nine County Council spots and 37 rivals vying for the nine-member school board, as well as a new sheriff, a new top prosecutor and candidates for the General Assembly."

Many of those candidates had weekends full of "door-knocking, neighborhood canvassing, community picnics and visits to the county's many large churches," Spivack writes.

5. How will the make-up of the Montgomery County Council change?

Democrats in Montgomery will choose four nominees from a field of nine candidates running for at-large seats on the County Council. In District 2, five Democrats, including former Planning Board chairman Royce Hanson and Del. Craig Rice, are vying for a chance at the only council seat with no incumbent in the race. And in another contested race, Democratic council member Roger Berliner is being challenged by community organizer Ilaya Hopkins.

"A history of go-go spending by incumbents on the Montgomery County council has given a fat target to opponents in the Sept. 14 primary," our colleague Mike Laris wrote over the weekend.

6. Who will be the next state's attorney in Baltimore?

Through this race has not received much mention in this space previously, it is definitely one of the state's most interesting. The Sun devoted much of its Sunday paper to the Democratic primary, which features incumbent Patricia C. Jessamy and challenger Gregg Bernstein. Among the coverage: profiles of both Jessamy and Bernstein.

-- John Wagner

(More) News You Should Know

Is Maryland No. 1 in education? Depends on who's grading
O'Malley education.jpg"Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley readily launches into the reasons he says he ought to be reelected: falling crime rates, a cleaner Chesapeake Bay, a brighter future," writes The Post's Aaron C. Davis. "Some audiences nod in agreement, others appear unenthused -- at least until he mentions schools. O'Malley grins, thrusts his index finger in the air and proclaims: 'Maryland is No. 1 in education!' Clapping, hoots and hollers ensue, even in hostile corners of the state. Educators agree that on the whole, Maryland has some of the best-performing schools in the country, even as closing the achievement gap between traditionally better ones in such areas as Montgomery County and those in poorer areas of Baltimore and Prince George's County remains a major challenge. But how highly they place among top-tier states depends on which expert is asked and what measurement is cited."

Currie campaign treasurer indicted for alleged theft
Thumbnail image for Currie.jpg"The former campaign treasurer for Maryland Sen. Ulysses Currie has been indicted for allegedly stealing more than $150,000 from the campaign account of the Prince George's Democrat, the office of the state prosecutor in Maryland announced Friday," writes The Post's John Wagner. "The 15-count indictment by an Anne Arundel County grand jury charges that Olivia Harris, 64, of Upper Marlboro used an ATM card issued by the campaign to steal money over three years. Harris allegedly concealed the withdrawals by filing false campaign reports."

Gilchrest makes late endorsement in his former district
Gilchrest teaching.jpg"Ex-Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R) is backing businessman Rob Fisher for the Republican nomination in his old 1st congressional district seat, but the announcement may have come too late to make a major difference in Tuesday's primary," writes The Post's Ben Pershing. "Gilchrest revealed his choice in a news release from Fisher, who is running an uphill campaign against state Sen. Andrew P. Harris for the GOP nod against Rep. Frank Kratovil (D)."

Walters, leading scholar and civil rights leader, dies at 72
Ron Walter.jpg"Ronald W. Walters, one of the country's leading scholars of the politics of race, who was a longtime professor at Howard University and the University of Maryland, died Friday of cancer at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda. He was 72," writes The Post's Matt Schudel. "Dr. Walters was both an academic and an activist, cementing his credentials with his early involvement in the civil rights movement. In 1958, in his home town of Wichita, he led what many historians consider the nation's first lunch-counter sit-in protest."

Quotables

"Everywhere I go, people tell me, 'You can't win, but I'm voting for you.'"
-- GOP candidate for governor Brian Murphy, on his prospects in Tuesday's primary against former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R)

"Do you see why ignoring a person like Brian Murphy, who is supported by Tea Party people, would turn off Tea Party people?"
-- Maryland Society of Patriots founder William Hale, speaking to Mary D. Kane, Ehrlich's running mate, as reported by The Baltimore Sun in a story about the role of the Tea Party movement in Maryland

"Thanks, hon."
-- former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), in response to his wife, Kendel, telling him she had voted for him at an early voting polling station in Annapolis last week

"It is nice to know that in the history of Maryland politics, I am a footnote and still remembered."
-- an email from Bob Fustero, who was mentioned in a Post piece on Brian Murphy over the weekend. Fustero, a retired grocery clerk who did little campaigning, won 20 percent of the vote against Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the 2002 Democratic primary for governor.

-----

Trust First Click for critical news and analysis you need to navigate Maryland politics each Monday and Thursday. You can also find First Click on Facebook and Twitter.


By John Wagner  |  September 13, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: Prince George's readies for Tuesday's balloting

Comments

Yesterday, the Washington Post ran an excellent story by the ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, about the abysmal state of the paper’s Maryland political coverage. It’s only last week that I criticized the Post for writing a puff piece about the MoCo Council District 2 race in which staff writer Michael Laris completely ignored one of the three major candidates: Sharon Dooley (http://bit.ly/bOoFr9).

The Post was kind enough to run my criticism on their “All Opinions Are Local” website. Fat lot of good that did. You see, the Post repeated the exact same error today! Just take a look at Item 5 on First Click Maryland’s (disgustingly superficial) election-final today. Yep: Sharon Dooley simply doesn’t exist.

My theory is that this isn’t utter incompetence, but rather editorial policy spilling over to reportage. In 2006, the Post banned mention of Marc Elrich’s name from their newspaper, because he wasn’t owned by the development industry. This year, the honor has gone to Dooley, who has the gall not to support full-county sprawl.

I have passed my views on the ombudsman, because his work to improve his employer’s product is clearly far from over.

Posted by: kbtkpk1 | September 13, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

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