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First Click, Maryland
O'Malley-Ehrlich Round 2 begins at noon

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Thursday, October 14, 2010:

The Agenda

WagnerThree days after tangling in a television studio in Baltimore, Maryland's leading candidates for governor are scheduled to square off today in a live debate at The Washington Post.

We're hoping this encounter will be a tad more forward-looking than Round 1 between Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) -- which closely resembled the "grudge match" that Ehrlich insists to reporters this race is not.

"We need to look at the present. We need to look at the future," the former governor said Wednesday as he campaigned in Baltimore, talking about the tax environment facing Maryland businesses.

Thumbnail image for DebateArrow.JPGIn a state served by two major media markets, one can expect The Post debate to tilt more toward topics affecting the Washington suburbs -- though the issues that have dominated he campaign to date, such as job creation and education, are largely of statewide importance and will get an airing, too.

The Post is hosting the debate with two media partners, WAMU (88.5 FM) and WUSA (Channel 9). The hourlong affair will be streamed live at noon at washingtonpostlive.com and broadcast live on WUSA. WAMU is airing the debate at 8 p.m. Maryland Public Television will also broadcast the debate live at noon and rebroadcast it at 7 p.m.

Washington Post Live editor Mary Jordan will moderate the discussion and ask questions along with WAMU 88.5 reporter Matt Bush and 9NEWS Now weekday anchor Derek McGinty.

O'Malley told reporters Wednesday that he expects to cover more topics than on Monday, noting that issues such as the environment, energy policy, mass transit and smart growth didn't get much attention. "I hope we talk about education, higher education and the things that are going to enable us to make the transition to a new economy," O'Malley said.

One thing to watch: Recent polls have shown Ehrlich trailing, and many pundits thought he would try to shake up the race Monday at WJZ. Most pundits thought he didn't. Arguably the most memorable part of Ehrlich's performance was his repeated use of the term "gov" to refer to O'Malley. It will be interesting to see if Ehrlich takes a more aggressive posture today.

We have a few bells and whistles.

Since Monday, we've been taking suggestions for questions, which you can continue to offer at the Washington Post Live site.

During the debate, Post reporters will be tweeting about the positions and posturing that takes place. If you use Twitter, you can follow @marylandmoment.

And at 1:15 p.m., shortly after the debate wraps up, I will be online on The Post site to host a discussion about what we just witnessed. We look forward to your thoughts.

-- John Wagner

News You Should Know

Mutual disdain helps drive race between O'Malley and Ehrlich
Animosity image.jpg"Allusions of racism, rude interruptions and burning glares this week between Maryland's two leading candidates for governor have revealed anew an ugly tension fueling the rematch between Gov. Martin O'Malley and former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.: They really don't like each other," write The Post's Aaron C. Davis and John Wagner. "Ehrlich (R) and O'Malley (D) have traded increasingly sharp gibes and accusations leading up to what is expected to be their final face-to-face, live televised debate Thursday, hosted by The Washington Post and two media partners, WAMU (88.5 FM) and WUSA (Channel 9)."

Ehrlich to visit residents near Calvert Cliffs as situation unfolds
Thumbnail image for calvertcliffs.jpg"Constellation Energy's French partner in a nuclear power initiative says it wants to push ahead with a proposal to build a third reactor at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant and offered to buy out Constellation's half of their joint venture," writes The Post's Steven Mufson in a story about an issue that is resonating in the Maryland gubernatorial race. Following Thursday's Post debate, former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) plans to travel to Solomons to meet with Calvert County residents about the project at a local Holiday Inn. On Wednesday, Ehrlich told reporters the Constellation announcement was part of "a bad week" for O'Malley.

Drama builds around Ehrlich casting call document
Casting Call.gif"A document making the rounds in Maryland political circles would appear to be a casting call for a Bob Ehrlich campaign ad," writes The Baltimore Sun's Laura Vozzella. "One reason there's interest in that: The spot would be shot in California, and Ehrlich has campaigned on the need to bolster Maryland's film industry. Another reason: Among the parts to be cast are Homeless Person #1 and Homeless Person #2, bringing to mind the last time Ehrlich went out of state for homeless people. In 2006, his campaign bused them in from Philly on Election Day to hand out literature that suggested -- falsely -- that Ehrlich was backed by several black Democratic leaders. Ehrlich spokesman Henry Fawell said the casting call did not come from the Ehrlich campaign."

Indicted Currie draws write-in challenger for Senate seat
Thumbnail image for Currie mug.jpg"Jennifer Lowery-Bell, 63, a Largo community activist and former nurse now studying law, said she stood by as state Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Prince George's) ran unopposed in the Sept. 14 Democratic primary for his fifth term in the Maryland state Senate," writes The Post's Miranda Spivack. "It was just 13 days after Currie, 73, was indicted on charges that he took more than $245,000 in bribes to do favors for a grocery chain. Lowery-Bell was troubled by the indictment, but said she was busy helping other candidates, and running for office herself was not particularly on her mind." She has now changed her mind.

Quotables

Thermoform.jpg"This study may be inconvenient for the incumbent governor, but it comports exactly with why I'm running this race."
-- former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), referring to a study commissioned by the Maryland Chamber of Commerce that examines the tax environment faced by selected industries in Maryland and three other states

"A review of Maryland tax history shows that, at least by some measures, there was a tax increase even larger than the one [Martin] O'Malley passed. One must travel back to 1967 when the state instituted a graduated income tax. Ironically enough, the man responsible for it was Republican Gov. Spiro Agnew."
-- Sun reporter Annie Linskey in a Thursday morning blog posting

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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  | October 14, 2010; 7:15 AM ET
Categories:  First Click, John Wagner  
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