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The growing importance of Prince George's

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Monday, October 18, 2010:

The Agenda

WagnerSometimes, candidates' trash-talking can be somewhat revealing.

Consider what Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) each had to say about the other's visits to heavily Democratic Prince George's County over the weekend.

O'Malley on Ehrlich: "Is this his first visit to Prince George's? Did he need a map?"

Ehrlich on O'Malley: "Obviously, he knows he's in trouble. He's been living here."

Ehrlich Prince George's 2.jpgOf course, Ehrlich does not need a map to get to Prince George's. But it is true that the former governor has done little public campaigning in the majority African American jurisdiction -- certainly when compared to the time he has spent in Baltimore County and other parts of the state where he is politically stronger.

With barely two weeks until the election, Ehrlich's visits do appear to be getting more frequent. As we noted in the pages of The Post over the weekend, Ehrlich drew about 200 people Saturday to a rally at Lake Presidential Golf Club in Upper Marlboro, where he argued that his effort to lure high-end retailers was among the reasons that his tenure was better than O'Malley's for the county.

Ehrlich is scheduled to be back in Prince George's today, to meet with small business owners at an IHOP in Capitol Heights.

Ehrlich acknowledged Saturday that Prince George's remains "a tough area for a Republican" but said that he wants to improve on 2002, when he became Maryland's first Republican governor in a generation but won only 23 percent of the county's vote.

Bettering that showing might sound like a modest goal. But to win in 2010, Ehrlich has to run stronger against O'Malley almost everywhere than he did in 2006 -- and Ehrlich ran a few points weaker in Prince George's in 2006 than he did in 2002.

As for O'Malley, best we can tell, he still resides at Government House in Annapolis. But it is true that he has been campaigning heavily in Prince George's, which is home to more registered Democrats than any other Maryland jurisdiction -- 401,125 as of last month. And it is also true that turnout was unusually low for the county's competitive September primaries.

As part of his efforts to energize his party's base, O'Malley was joined Saturday by both Prince George's outgoing county executive, Jack B. Johnson (D), and its presumptive incoming executive, Rushern L. Baker III (D).

O'Malley is back in Prince George's today, too. This morning, both O'Malley and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), a former Prince George's delegate, are scheduled to attend the Prince George's County Annual Ploughman and Fisherman Unity Breakfast in Upper Marlboro. Later, Brown is hosting a forum for military veterans in Lanham.

The week will include several other opportunities for both candidates to speak to Prince George's voters.

A debate being hosted in Baltimore on Thursday morning by WOLB-AM will be picked up in the Washington region by WOL-AM. That encounter is expected to include discussion of issues of particular importance to the African American community. And another radio debate is scheduled in the Washington region on Friday, on WTOP.

And of course, both camps will continue to try to sway voters with television ads. As of now, it appears that O'Malley has bought significantly more time than Ehrlich in both the Washington and Baltimore markets. We'll have more on that as the week unfolds.

-- John Wagner

News You Should Know

This time, Washington Post editorial board backs O'Malley
O'Malley State House.jpgThe Washington Post editorial board has endorsed the re-election of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) over former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), a reversal from four years ago, when The Post sided with Ehrlich. In Sunday's editorial, The Post called O'Malley "a good, level-headed governor" who deserves a second term. The editorial took issue with Ehrlich for not spelling out how he would pay for a proposed cut in the state sales tax. "By pretending that he can painlessly starve state government of income, Mr. Ehrlich has failed to level with Maryland voters. He has also undercut his own campaign's main thrust, which is that he would reinvigorate the state's business climate and create jobs," the editorial said. "It is Mr. O'Malley's ill fortune to have governed through a severe slump. The economy's meltdown has made it difficult for him to leave a lasting mark, despite solid initiatives. Still, he has governed ably."

Ehrlich, O'Malley offer priorities for governing in tough times
Both leading candidates for governor in Maryland wrote Sunday opinion pieces for The Post on how they would deal with budget shortfalls and govern in a time of fiscal restraint. Here are some sample grabs.
Thumbnail image for Ehrlich mug.jpgEhrlich: "Missing in Annapolis is an adult conversation about the wisdom of spending money we don't have. I see the next four years as a historic opportunity to create a government of the future, rather than preserve a government that clings to the past. With a sorely needed dose of candor and hard work, we can transform the mission, reach and scope of state government to deliver services at a reasonable cost that citizens are willing to pay."
Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for o'malley.JPGO'Malley: "The choices we've made over the past four years haven't always been easy. ... As we look ahead to the next year, we face more tough choices. There are no quick fixes or easy answers. Former governor Bob Ehrlich's empty promise that we can all 'eat cake and lose weight' won't move us forward in tough times. We have to be willing to make tough choices."

MARC passengers: Continuing problems, including tardy trains
MARC.jpg"After a MARC train stalled this summer and stranded 900 passengers in sweltering heat for more than two hours, transit officials promised to respond faster to breakdowns and to provide more information to customers stuck on disabled trains," writes The Post's Katherine Shaver, exploring an issue that former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has sought to press in his rematch against Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). "But many MARC passengers say the June breakdown was merely an extreme example of a common and continuing problem. Some passengers say late trains have become so frequent that they no longer consider Maryland's commuter rail service reliable. Two trains that run between Washington and Baltimore on weekday afternoons run late 30 percent of the time, according to MARC data."

Gubernatorial candidates spar over education records, plans
Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) "identifies his ardent support for charter schools as the sharpest difference on education between him and Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley. But it's hardly the only education issue over which the two have differed. They have disagreed over who did a better job controlling the costs of attending state universities and who did the most to protect public schools from cuts. Each has reams of statistics aimed at undermining the other's claims of success on education," write The Baltimore Sun's Liz Bowie and Childs Walker. "When it comes to future plans, however, their rhetoric sounds more similar."

Concerns raised about early counting of early votes
"With the state's first attempt at early voting in a general election set to begin Friday, officials still are working out kinks in the system," writes The Sun's Julie Bykowicz. "After a trial run in last month's primaries, lawmakers are considering allowing those votes to be counted earlier on Election Day -- an idea that has raised red flags among Republican and policy groups concerned that politicians could take advantage of the information. Even with historically low turnout for the primaries Sept. 14, election judges were overwhelmed with work that night, prompting results from some of the larger areas to trickle in at a slower-than-usual pace."

Kratovil among Democrats being helped by national party leaders
Thumbnail image for kratovil-outsidecapital.JPG"National Democrats continue to pour money into the reelection bids of freshman Reps. Frank M. Kratovil Jr. in Maryland as well as Tom Perriello and Glenn Nye in Virginia, even as the party has largely given up on other candidates facing similarly tough races across the country," writes The Post's Ben Pershing. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has drawn attention by canceling its reservations for advertising time in a handful of districts where it believes its chances are dwindling and shifting its resources to races that appear more winnable. But although Kratovil, Perriello and Nye regularly appear on lists of the most-endangered incumbents in the country, the committee appears to believe it still has a fighting chance and has now spent more than $1.5 million combined on those contests."

Cordish going door-to-door underscores high stakes on slots
Anne Arundel slots.jpg"Arms full of campaign brochures and colorful maps of the proposed casino near Arundel Mills mall, the wiry man with wavy gray hair is bounding up the block of tidy homes in Brooklyn, making his pitch. He skips the house with the 'Beware of the dog' sign, but opens gate latches and pounds on doors with the vigor of a seasoned politician. When one opens, he extends his hand and says, 'Hi, I'm David Cordish. Can I talk to you about the slots?'" writes The Sun's Nicole Fuller. "That a 70-year-old billionaire developer is spending his evenings and weekends knocking on doors like a candidate for the local school board says much about the stakes in next month's referendum in Anne Arundel County that will decide whether Cordish's lavish slots parlor can be built."

Quotables

"We produced, big time. It's not about black and white, but it's about green."
-- former governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), arguing that his efforts to lure high-end retail to Prince George's was among the reasons his tenure was better for the county than O'Malley's

"Don't be fooled. We've got to run like we're 10 points behind."
-- Rushern L. Baker III (D), the presumptive incoming county executive, on the importance of the election to Prince George's

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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 18, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  First Click, John Wagner  
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Next: First Click, Maryland:
Another poll shows momentum for O'Malley

Comments

Congratulations to Governor O'Malley on getting the Post endorsement.

Looks like this time the Post picked a winner.

Posted by: MarilynManson | October 18, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

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