First Click, Maryland:
Police union endorses Ehrlich in Md. Gov's race
Thursday, September 23, 2010:
Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. (R) trekked to Ocean City on Tuesday seeking one of the key remaining endorsements in this year's gubernatorial match-up - support of the 18,000-member Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police.
Ehrlich took the stage first and in a short speech asked for the same endorsement the group had given him twice before. According to some in the room, he alluded to agreements for benefits that he'd struck with the union that were later scaled back as the economy tanked under O'Malley.
Hours later, O'Malley entered and made a harder pitch. He stressed that he'd done more to keep violent criminals locked up and referenced bills he signed this spring, including the state's new Blue Alert program to form a dragnet to track criminals suspected of violence against police officers.
When the two left and the doors were closed, however, the former Republican governor's strong ties to the state's law enforcement groups and his tough talk on holding down taxes won over officers, sources said.
In a vote, 26 lodges backed Ehrlich to 23 for O'Malley, according to sources with knowledge of the discussion and vote. But behind that tally was a bigger tilt toward Ehrlich. The mega lodges of Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Montgomery County all went for Ehrlich. The only major lodge that went for O'Malley was Prince George's County.
Ehrlich's campaign was not prepared to comment on the endorsement Wednesday night. But O'Malley campaign spokesman Rick Abbruzzese said O'Malley would "continue to partner with law enforcement to keep our communities safe. Governor O'Malley has broad support from the law enforcement community including state troopers, sheriffs and correctional officers."
Four years ago, the FOP endorsement was not enough to turn the election for Ehrlich, but this time around it could give the Republican a platform to talk about crime that had mostly belonged to O'Malley in recent months with a string of statistics showing 30-year lows in violent crime rates in most corners of the state.
For his part, O'Malley on Wednesday night was in Baltimore to receive the endorsement of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT-Maryland), the latest in a string of teachers' union endorsements that began rolling in for the Democrat nearly a year ago, and that were bolstered by union boosting measures O'Malley backed during the last legislative session.
Endorsements were an early part of O'Malley's campaign strategy. Over a year ago, he released a list of 300, mostly Democratic supporters, as a show of strength. Since then, he has courted not only traditional Democratic backers, but groups like the Farm Bureau and Associated Builders and Contractors. Those groups traditionally have favored Republicans and went for Ehrlich in 2006, but have not made endorsements this year and may remain neutral.
News You Should Know
Hollywood Casino Perryville may open next week
"After years of bitter debate and numerous setbacks, Maryland could actually have an operating slots casino this time next week," writes The Post's John Wagner. "Members of a state commission were greeted Wednesday by the sounds of whirring and dinging as they entered the nearly complete Hollywood Casino Perryville in the northeastern corner of Maryland, a 1,500-machine facility scheduled to make its public debut next Thursday.
"Technicians scampered among the machines on the gaming floor. ... But representatives from the casino, owned by Penn National Gaming, insisted they are on schedule for a grand opening with dignitaries including Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), who has championed the state's slots program and is up for reelection in less than six weeks."
Vice president fundraising Thursday morning for Mikulski
"Vice President Joe Biden will be in Chevy Chase on Thursday morning to help raise money for Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski's reelection, the vice president's office announced Wednesday night," reports The Sun's Paul West. "No further details were provided about the 8:30 a.m. event. Biden has been traveling the country campaigning and fundraising for Democratic candidates. Mikulski is one of the most heavily favored Democratic incumbents up for reelection to the Senate this fall. She has millions more in the bank than her Republican challenger, Queen Anne's County Commissioner Eric Wargotz, and a wide lead in published polls. Biden was in Boston on Wednesday to raise funds for the reelection of Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, an endangered Democrat thought to have only a slim chance of winning."
Check back here later Thursday morning for more on the event.
Scope of Prince George's ballot breakdown emerging
"In an effort to speed up the process of tabulating votes from the primary election, the Prince George's County Board of Elections implemented a new process that instead caused the county to be one of the slowest jurisdictions in the state to compile results," reports The Gazette's Daniel Valentine. "It took until 5 a.m. the day after the Sept. 14 primary to report about 70 percent of election returns, despite the county having the second-lowest percentage of voter turnout in about 20 years." Alisha Alexander, the county's elections administrator, said a more efficient approach will be taken in the next election."
"After decades of the Democratic monopoly in Annapolis, Maryland finds itself adrift in the doldrums of failed policies and high taxes. There is another way."
-- Republican leadership of and candidates for the Maryland House of Delegates, announcing a press conference for Thursday morning to introduce the "Prosperity Pledge for Maryland - a pledge to bring back liberty, prosperity, open government, jobs and lower taxes back to the citizens of Maryland."
"We want to see a net positive every month; that won't always happen ... but I don't believe there is any state better positioned" for a robust economic recovery.
-- Gov. Martin O'Malley on Wednesday in first comment on state's loss of nearly 6,000 jobs in August.
"Once my disenfranchisement with [elected officials'] actions got to a certain level, I decided that if I was going to complain about it, that I should be willing to try to get out there and make a difference."
-- Natasha Pettigrew in a video that was her last Facebook posting before she died Monday. The 30-year-old Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate died two days after she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle in the Largo area.
Aaron C. Davis
| September 23, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
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