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First Click, Maryland
What to watch when you watch the debate

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22 days until the Maryland elections

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Monday, October 11, 2010:

The Agenda

Wagner"Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley traded scathing assessments of each other's records yesterday during a pair of debates in which they did little to hide their mutual disdain."

That's how we began our day-after coverage four years ago, the last time these two titans of Maryland politics tangled in a debate.

handshake.jpgThe titles have changed, of course -- now it's former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) -- but we're guessing most other things will feel familiar this morning when the two men square off in the studios of WJZ, the CBS affiliate in Baltimore.

The first televised debate of the rematch election campaign, scheduled to be taped at 10 a.m., airs on WJZ at 7 p.m. It is also scheduled to be broadcast at 7 p.m. on Maryland Public Television and streamed on wjz.com.

Expect plenty of talk this time around about records -- who raised which taxes and fees, and by how much -- and plenty of pledges to bolster job creation in Maryland.

What may be just as telling is how O'Malley and Ehrlich handle their mutual disdain for each other. Undoubtedly, each will try to get under the other's skin. How they respond will be apparent to the TV audience.

WJZdebate.jpgFour years ago, one of the more memorable moments took place when Ehrlich talked down to O'Malley about the significant aid that the state provides for programs in Baltimore.

"I pay for you," an agitated Ehrlich said, looking straight at the then-mayor. "Without us, you are done."

O'Malley shot back, saying Ehrlich was practicing "the politics of division and fear."

Viewers are also likely to witness the contrasting styles of O'Malley, whose rhetoric trends toward the more lofty, and Ehrlich, who channels the common man.

Four years ago, Ehrlich twice tried to turn O'Malley's responses against him, countering his soaring words with: "I don't know what all that means."

How much this debate will mean is hard to know.

Jennifer Duffy of the Cook Political Report put it this way in The Baltimore Sun over the weekend: "I always think of debate like Olympic figure skating. You look to see if someone makes the big jump or if someone falls down."

Speaking to reporters Friday, Ehrlich sought to tamp down expectations some, saying the WJZ debate could be "a little less impactful" than it would be if it took place in the Washington region, where he and O'Malley are not as well known.

Speaking of which ... O'Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese announced in a statement Sunday that his campaign has accepted a debate proposed for Thursday by The Washington Post, which would be broadcast live on WUSA (Channel 9). In a statement, Ehrlich spokesman Andy Barth said "we also hope a debate hosted by The Washington Post can be worked out; it is still under discussion."

Meanwhile, there are two radio debates now on the calendar: Oct. 21 on WOLB in Baltimore, and Oct. 22 on WTOP in Washington.

O'Malley and Ehrlich will actually share the stage twice today.

After the WJZ debate, they head to a hotel near the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport for the Maryland Disabilities Forum. Though not billed as a "debate," the 90-minute encounter could produce some headlines of its own. Stay tuned.

-- John Wagner


News You Should Know

Money pouring into Anne Arundel slots referendum
Anne Arundel slots.jpg"Monied interests on both sides are pouring millions of dollars into a fight over a ballot measure that could determine whether Maryland's largest slots casino can be built at Arundel Mills mall," writes The Post's John Wagner. "The mall owners and developer of the casino together have contributed $2.6 million to a group advocating for passage of the Nov. 2 referendum in Anne Arundel County. Voter approval is required to keep a zoning law on the books that is needed for Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. to proceed with its planned 4,750-machine casino in a stand-alone building outside the mall's food court. Spending by Cordish and the mall owner has been eclipsed by the Maryland Jockey Club, which has given nearly $3.3 million to a group advocating defeat of the ballot measure, known as Question A."

Ehrlich, O'Malley at odds on environmental prescriptions
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Scenic bay.jpg"Like just about every other Maryland politician of the past three decades, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. each say they are dedicated to restoring the Chesapeake Bay," writes The Baltimore Sun's Timothy B. Wheeler. "Each can point to actions he's taken as governor to help the ailing body of water that occupies the heart of the state. But in their rematch for the state's highest office, both take pains to point out the differences in their approaches. And when it comes to other environmental issues, such as climate change and clean energy, they're even more at odds."


Ehrlich knocks O'Malley following Calvert Cliffs setback
calvertcliffs.jpg"Maryland's leading gubernatorial candidates exchanged blows on energy policy Saturday following news that Constellation Energy had shelved its proposal to build a new reactor at its Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant, citing 'unworkable' loan guarantee terms from the Obama administration," writes The Post's Wagner. "Former Maryland governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) blamed Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) for failing to help negotiate a deal between Constellation and the Energy Department on a project that could mean 4,000 jobs in Maryland."

O'Malley, congressional delegation asks court's help on foreclosures
"Gov. Martin O'Malley and Maryland's entire congressional delegation asked the state's highest court Saturday to halt all home foreclosures for at least 60 days in response to recent revelations that large mortgage lenders processed thousands of documents without proper review," writes The Sun's Childs Walker. "'We believe immediate action is necessary to ensure that defects in lenders' procedures and documentation that have come to light in recent days have not and will not result in miscarriages of justice for Maryland homeowners and Maryland courts,' the political leaders wrote in an Oct. 9 letter to Robert M. Bell, chief judge of the Court of Appeals."

Gubernatorial campaigns step up efforts to win over women
EhrlichMoms.jpgIn the closing weeks of Maryland's race for governor, both campaigns are stepping up efforts to woo women. On Sunday, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) traveled to Silver Spring for the first of three scheduled "1,000 Women for O'Malley-Brown-Mikulski rallies," a title that references both O'Malley's running mate, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) and Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D), who is on the Nov. 2 ballot as well. Meanwhile, former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) on Friday visited the White Marsh home of Tammy Larkin, the state director of Moms for Maryland, a group she launched a few months back. Ehrlich convened a luncheon the day before with about 100 women in Montgomery County. In a Washington Post poll of likely voters last month, Ehrlich trailed O'Malley among women, 56 percent to 38 percent. Among men, O'Malley's lead was much narrower, 49 percent to 45 percent. -- John Wagner

O'Malley's March booked for a pair of pre-election gigs
O'Malley'sMarch.jpgMaryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) plans to strap on his guitar a couple more times before Election Day. On Sunday, his campaign announced a pair of "Halfway to St. Patrick's Day" events. One is scheduled in Baltimore on Oct. 23, the other in Washington on Oct. 24. Both are low-dollar fundraisers, with tickets that cost $50 apiece. Both feature O'Malley playing with his Celtic rock band, O'Malley's March, along with other musical acts. The band's activities were scaled back during the 2006 campaign, as some advisers expressed concerns that O'Malley's side career detracted from his gravitas. Since then, the band has released a new CD and continued to make sporadic live appearances. -- John Wagner

Quotables

"I think what we are seeing is the normal hardening of party lines. In many cases, in this year, that's working out for Republicans. In Maryland, the African-American turnout will be high enough. The solidly Democratic turnout will be high enough, and it looks like the governor will get another term."
-- pollster Scott Rasmussen, predicting a win by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), during an appearance Saturday morning on Bruce Elliott's show on WBAL radio in Baltimore

"Let's be blunt: Maryland lawmakers opted for policies that preserved health and lives. Virginia lawmakers chose lethal ones that enabled smokers to keep on killing themselves."
-- a Washington Post editorial on Sunday, exploring the consequences of different policy choices made in Annapolis and Richmond

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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 11, 2010; 6:45 AM ET
Categories:  First Click, John Wagner  
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Next: Ehrlich, O'Malley agree to debate hosted by The Post

Comments

Posted by: kaibash09 | October 11, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Constellation shelved its plan to build a new nuke power plant at Calvert Cliffs? EXCELLENT! Nuke power is non-renewable and unsafe...considering our modern alternatives. Besides, taxpayers CANNOT afford to back another nuke plan construction...and we WOULD have had to pick up the tab.

Ehrlich is deluded that Marylanders are living in the 1950's. The "glow" has worn off the whole nuke power era... we're smarter now.

Posted by: free-donny | October 11, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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