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First Click, Maryland
O'Malley on D.C. TV and other coming attractions

First Click

Your daily download of political news and analysis:
43 days until the Maryland elections

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Monday, September 20, 2010:

The Agenda

WagnerThe air war in the Maryland governor's race will begin in earnest in the Washington media market on Tuesday, with a television ad by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) set to debut in which he claims to have "put education first" despite tough budget times.

The 30-second spot, which opens with footage of O'Malley in Montgomery County, where he grew up, is markedly different in tone than the governor's recent ads in the Baltimore market. Those ads have sought to undercut the credibility of former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) on taxes and other issues.

O'Malley education ad.jpgIn the new ad, O'Malley touts record funding of education during his tenure and a No. 1 ranking of Maryland schools by "experts," a claim my colleague Aaron C. Davis recently explored. O'Malley also highlights the expansion of charter schools during his tenure -- a pet issue for Ehrlich. We're certain the former governor will soon weigh in O'Malley's decision to claim this as an accomplishment in his ad.

The Post was given a preview of the O'Malley spot on the condition we not post the actual ad or run a transcript this morning. We'll certainly have more to say about its content in coming days.

A few broad-stroke observations in the meantime: In Maryland politics, TV advertising in the Washington media market almost always lags well behind that in the Baltimore market.

Both regions are crucial at the ballot box -- and Ehrlich is heavily targeting Montgomery this year -- but the Washington market is far more expensive and far less efficient than the Baltimore market. That's because ads on network affiliates in Washington also run in Virginia and the District, where few Maryland voters reside.

O'Malley first went on the air in Baltimore on July 12, more than two months ago. The fact that he will be up in Washington ahead of Ehrlich -- who debuted in Baltimore just two weeks ago -- is hardly surprising, given O'Malley's large cash advantage in the campaign. O'Malley needs to energize the heavily Democratic region, where turnout was dismal for last week's primaries and there is little else on the general election ballot in November to lure voters to the polls.

Speaking of coming attractions, two developments in our coverage are worth mentioning before turning to the rest of the day's news.

Starting now, First Click will be delivered daily again instead of twice a week. With the governor's race about to kick into high gear, we're ending our summer schedule and will be here each weekday morning.

Secondly, we're about to start supplementing our coverage of the governor's race with online videos, in which Ehrlich and O'Malley will speak directly on some of the salient issues of the campaign. We'll have more to say about that soon. Stay tuned.

-- John Wagner

News You Should Know

O'Malley among candidates backed by New York's Bloomberg
Michael-Bloomberg.jpg"In an election year when anger and mistrust have upended races across the country, toppling moderates and elevating white-hot partisans, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is trying to pull politics back to the middle, injecting himself into marquee contests and helping candidates fend off the Tea Party," writes Michael Barbaro in The New York Times. "New York's billionaire mayor, whose flurry of activity is stirring a new round of speculation about his presidential ambitions, is supporting Republicans, Democrats and independents who he says are not bound by rigid ideology and are capable of compromise, qualities he says he fears have become alarmingly rare in American politics. ... [T]hose seeking Mr. Bloomberg's endorsement say that voters are not simply angry; they want solutions to problems, and that the mayor represents a government that, by all accounts, works well. Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland, a Democrat who won the mayor's backing for re-election this year, said voters were 'sick of partisanship and they want us to deliver.'"

Same candidates as 2006, but the terrain has changed in 2010
Ehrlich barber 4.jpg"Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. doesn't have to break away from running the state to hit the campaign trail. He no longer has to defend the war in Iraq or the policies of his party's unpopular president. But he does face questions about how he spent his four years out of office," writes The Baltimore Sun's Julie Bykowicz in a piece that neatly sums up how the political landscape has changed in Maryland since 2006. "Martin O'Malley cannot run as the Annapolis outsider or count on a national wave to carry him to victory. He must carve out time from his day job to meet with voters. After four years in office, he has a record to tout -- and, where critics are concerned, defend."

Currie enters not-guilty pleas in Shoppers bribery case
Currie mug.jpg"Maryland Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's) entered not-guilty pleas Friday to all 18 counts in an indictment that alleges that he took more than $245,000 in bribes to use his position and influence to do favors for a grocery chain," writes The Post's John Wagner. "Currie, who temporarily stepped down as the chairman of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee after his Sept. 1 indictment, was represented in U.S. District Court in Baltimore by a pair of federal public defenders who have replaced his private attorneys in the case. Currie, 73, who was accompanied by his wife, declined to comment to reporters, and one of his attorneys, Joseph L. Evans, said he was too new to the case to discuss its substance. 'What I can say is that Senator Currie is highly respected -- beloved, really -- by those who know him and work with him,' Evans said. 'We're honored to represent him.'"

1st Congressional District race takes a turn toward the negative
"The Maryland rematch between incumbent Democrat Frank Kratovil and Republican Andy Harris, one of the most closely watched House contests in the country, is turning negative," writes The Sun's Paul West. "An opening shot by Kratovil, the first attack ad of the general election race, goes after Harris for supporting a proposed national sales tax. However, the congressman's commercial never mentions that the sales-tax plan his challenger favors would do away with federal income taxes, an omission that an independent campaign watchdog has called deceptive in Democratic campaign advertising elsewhere."

Montgomery could have four council members within three miles of one another
Riemer mailer.png"Montgomery County stretches across a diverse terrain of more than 495 square miles. But if political wisdom in the heavily Democratic county holds, four of nine County Council members will live within three miles of one another by year's end," writes The Post's Michael Laris. "Three council members already do, right along the Takoma Park-Silver Spring border. Hans Riemer, a Silver Spring political organizer, joined three neighborhood incumbents in winning Democratic nominations in Tuesday's primary. If the four are victorious come November -- as many assume they will be in a county where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1 -- their tree-lined patch of Montgomery north of the District line will deepen its remarkable grip on local government power."


mike miller.jpg"They might not be happy with the fact that he's a pro-choice Republican, or that he doesn't bash gays, but they're going to vote for him, even though his promises in many cases are total fiction."
-- Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), predicting most supporters of GOP primary candidate Brian Murphy will vote for former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) in the general election, as quoted in The Gazette

"Seniors have fallen, and they can't get up."
-- Donald E. Murphy, a former Baltimore County delegate, offering his take on Tuesday's primary results, in which several of the older members of the General Assembly lost seats, as quoted by the Gazette

"Bo knows Maryland."
-- Baltimore Sun reporter Paul West, in a blog posting reporting that Republican Senate challenger Eric Wargotz has hired Bo Harmon, who managed former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s 2006 campaign, as his campaign director and general consultant

Anthony Brown.jpg"He's feeding into misconceptions that one party or another connects better with the military."
-- Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), a colonel in the Army Reserve, on former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), in a profile piece in The Baltimore Sun


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

By John Wagner  |  September 20, 2010; 6:25 AM ET
Categories:  First Click , John Wagner  
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Next: Mikulski's first ad focuses on 'new economy jobs'


Expand your mind and expand your knowledge. There are still jobs out there. Go after a degree in the field of your choice and on demand. Find your field that is on demand and suitable for you.

Posted by: davisjack20 | September 20, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

There are big differences between the 2006 Md. gov race and today. Back then, OMalley could bring out Bush as the boogeyman, not now. On the other hand, both Ehrlich and OMalley have four years in Annapolis that can be examined. The question for us mere voters is, who will tell the truth?

Posted by: VikingRider | September 20, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

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