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First Click, Maryland:
Md. gov's race spinning toward colorful conclusion

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Friday, October 15, 2010:

The Agenda
Aaron.jpgAt the end of Thursday's feisty gubernatorial debate, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) seemed pleased with his performance and the at-times hostile back-and-forth. "It was as good as it gets," he said. It reflected "the profound philosophical differences between us."

Asked what he thought about the tone of the debate, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said he expects the dialogue to turn even more testy in the remaining days before Nov. 2. "I expect the former governor to become more desperate," O'Malley said.

debate15.jpgI won't rehash the entire debate here. If you didn't see it or want more reaction, you can read the front-page story I wrote with my colleague John Wagner for today's Washington Post. Or you can take a breather at work and watch the best of O'Malley and Ehrlich here on Washington Post Live, which sponsored the debate. You can also read Post columnist Robert McCartney's take, or just catch The Post's fact-checking highlights here.

Suffice to say, the rare out-of-state Maryland gubernatorial debate (held in The District, in front of an audience of nearly 300 in The Post's auditorium) provided some memorable one-liners. Critics and pundits by and large said Ehrlich's energized performance was better than in the first face-to-face between the two men earlier this week, and likely charged up his base and perhaps even prompted some to cut checks to underwrite a few more television ads for the contest's final weeks.

Moves, however, by the O'Malley campaign by Thursday night - including posting a 90-second highlight reel online that included one instance in which Ehrlich elicited a mix of boos and applause - suggested the governor's camp also thought images from the debate of Ehrlich, who at times appeared impatient on camera, could also work to the incumbent's advantage.

We'll see. Whatever your bent; however you remember the debate, and whomever you want to win on Nov. 2, the comments by both candidates following their back-and-forth seemed to make clear that in the next 18 days things are bound to get more colorful.

As Ehrlich summed up late in the debate on Thursday, it's getting fun because "we disagree about everything."

Allusions to racism were added to the mix in Monday's debate. On Thursday, it was charged comments by Ehrlich that O'Malley condones illegal immigration. With two more radio debates and a planned rally for O'Malley with Bill Clinton scheduled for next week, anything's possible.

As Ehrlich said, for the sheer political theater of it, stay tuned. It may be a long time before deep-blue Maryland witnesses the finale to an election with two equally high-profile, diametrically-opposed candidates on, well, just about everything.

-- Aaron C. Davis

News You Should Know

Another O'Malley ad attacks Ehrlich on credibility
In a new TV ad released in the Baltimore market Thursday before the debate, O'Malley brands Ehrlich "a career politician we really can't trust" and continues his past efforts to undermine the former governor's credibility. As Ehrlich appears on series of television screens in a darkly lit rooms, the narrator tells viewers Ehrlich will "say anything go get elected." "He says he's for us, but made $2.5 million at a special interest lobbying firm," the narrator says in one example. Ehrlich is also taken to task for raising taxes and saying recently that he might cut education funding. -- John Wagner

What would the next governor do to keep the Redskins in Md.?
mcnabb-redskins.jpgIn a lighter moment in Thursday's debate, the two were also asked if they would work to keep the Redskins in Maryland if the team's owner sought to return the franchise to Washington. Ehrlich said he would meet with owner Dan Snyder, whom he said he counts as a supporter, and attempt to work out a deal to prevent it; O'Malley said he wants to keep both the Redskins and Ravens in the state but said he could not anticipate what would be prepared to do to keep the team in Largo. -- Aaron C. Davis

Gazette: Md. official calls faulty foreclosures a 'freaking mess'
"Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) has joined his 49 counterparts across the country in calling for a halt to current and pending home mortgage foreclosures to sort out a situation that his spokeswoman calls a 'freaking mess.' The national scandal involving mortgage companies foreclosing on delinquent homeowners without properly following procedures is only the tip of a complex legal iceberg, state officials said." The Gazette's C. Benjamin Ford quotes Gansler spokeswoman Raquel Guillory: "This is a huge freaking mess."


"We need to do it in a responsible way, with everyone at the table ... I don't think ideology is going to solve this complex problem, we need to bring people together with dignity and respect, look at the menu of options, and figure out a way to move forward."
-- Gov. Martin O'Malley responding to a debate question on the state's pension liabilities, saying he was waiting for a commission to finish a study of the problem and to recommend solutions.

"I don't know how many cliches can be placed into one sentence but you just set the record. Leaders lead, politicians give you that."
-- Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

"The problem for Ehrlich is he has to win some of these debates by two touchdowns. On his strongest day, it's more like he took it to overtime and prevailed by a field goal."
--Thomas F. Schaller, a political science professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, saying he thought Ehrlich's debate performance was the strongest of his three campaigns for governor, but that he questioned whether it would be enough to alter the race. Schaller describes his own politics as liberal.


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 Aaron C. Davis  | October 15, 2010; 7:15 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis, First Click  
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Next: Education reform on tap for next Baker 'listening' session

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