October 29, 2014

State Roundup, October 29, 2014

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VOTING MACHINE PROBLEMS: The Maryland Republican Party is calling on the state Board of Elections to investigate reports that voting machines are switching ballots cast for GOP candidates to their Democratic rivals. The state party said Tuesday that it has received complaints from about 50 voters in 12 Maryland counties who say machines at early voting centers “flipped” their Republican votes to count toward Democratic candidates, writes Michael Dresser in the Sun.

  • One week into Maryland’s early voting period and six days from Election Day, ballot security and voter fraud are being called into question in a gubernatorial race that is tighter than most expected, reports Glynis Kazanjian for MarylandReporter.com. Republican officials and average citizens are expressing concerns over faulty voting equipment, erroneous absentee ballot mailings and the potential for voter fraud by non-citizens.

CHRISTIE RETURNS: Maryland Republican gubernatorial nominee Larry Hogan on Tuesday welcomed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) back to the state for a third time, while his Democratic opponent, Anthony G. Brown, picked up the endorsement of a national gun-control group, writes John Wagner for the Post.

Christie diner

What woodja like, hon?: Larry Hogan Jr. and Gov. Chris Christie with staff at the Honey Bee Diner in Glen Burnie. (Photo by Hogan campaign)

BRADY CAMPAIGN BACKS BROWN: A national gun-control group endorsed Democrat Anthony Brown Tuesday in the race for governor, praising the lieutenant governor for supporting last year’s gun law, writes Erin Cox in the Sun. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence credited Brown for helping to pass a ban on assault weapon sales, stricter limits on magazine sizes and a new licensing requirement for handguns.

NRA’S HOGAN ENDORSEMENT: In a Center Maryland Minute, opinionator Barry Rascovar says that the NRA’s endorsement of Larry Hogan has done more harm to the candidate than good.

HOGAN GETS LEE’S VOTE: Gazette columnist Blair Lee writes that he’s voting for Larry Hogan for governor because he doesn’t “believe that the biggest problem facing Maryland is gun control or abortion. The biggest problem facing Maryland, and its next governor, is Maryland’s stagnant economy.”

BALLOT HEAD-SCRATCHERS: Statewide ballot questions in Maryland can be head-scratchers, not just because of occasionally confusing legal language, but also because they do not always pertain to all voters across the state, according to an AP report in the Daily Record.

BAKER URGES VOTER TURNOUT: After months of behind-the-scenes maneuvering, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern  Baker is publicly appealing to voters to loosen term-limit restrictions by voting for Question J on the November ballot and to vote for Anthony Brown for governor, reports Arelis Hernández for the Post.

BACKING THE UN-META: Five Baltimore Democrats who lost to state Del. Frank M. Conaway Jr. in this year’s primary election are asking voters to support a write-in candidate after Conaway posted a series of rambling videos online in which he referred to himself as “meta,” discussed Sasquatch and Yeti, and asked whether he lives in a hologram, writes Luke Broadwater for the Sun.

GUNS & 9B: The issue of gun regulation, which has already made news at the state level in the race for governor and locally in the Howard County executive campaign, has made its way to Ellicott City. In District 9B, new mailers sponsored by a pro-gun-regulation group, Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, arrived in constituents’ mailboxes Monday, reports Amanda Yeager in the Sun.

RUNNING IN 37B: Keasha Haythe wants to bring her years of experience in economic development to the House of Delegates and help create a region wide plan for growth, writes Josh Bollinger for the Easton Star Democrat. Haythe is the current economic development director of Dorchester County and before that of Queen Anne’s County. She is the Democratic candidate for one of the District 37B House of Delegates seats, for which two candidates from different counties can be chosen.

GOOD TURNOUT IN BA CO: Although Baltimore County has fewer registered voters than Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, it had the highest early voting turnout in the state this year with 26,522 ballots cast through Sunday, Lauren Loricchio writes in the Sun.

POOR TURNOUT IN MO CO: David Lublin of the Seventh State political blog asks the question, why is political turnout so poor in Montgomery County? He offers a number of answers, including that the Democratic Party seems to be ignoring that county, which is always a surefire win for the Dems.

  • Here’s Lublin’s latest report on early voting with his helpful chart: Early voting remained highly stable on Day 6, rising just a bit over Day 5. The rate of Democratic turnout continues the trend of rising at a miniscule rate above Republican turnout. Right now, 6.04% (122,996) of registered Democrats have voted as compared to 5.97% (56,675) of Republicans and 2.59% (17,030) of the unaffiliated have cast ballots.
Early voting day 6

Black = All voters; Blue = Democrats; Red = Republicans; Gray = Other (Chart by David Lublin, Seventh State)

RUNNING FOR JUDGE: Amid a general election notable for few competitive races at the county level, local legal and political circles continue to be roiled by charges and countercharges surrounding this year’s contest for four Circuit Court judgeships. Louis Peck of Bethesda magazine writes that what may ultimately be on trial in the court of public opinion is the wisdom of compelling judges to compete in the electoral arena in the same manner as those seeking political office.

MONSTER ELECTION MASHUP: The City Paper’s sharp edges are apparent as it offers a roundup of the races that will affect Baltimore City, under the headline: Educate yourself on the monsters running for office this election day. Van Smith starts with the big monster race for governor.

3RD PARTIES BENEFITS: Candidates in closely watched races in Anne Arundel County are pouring much of their money into the usual places — mailers and media, reports Rema Rahman for the Annapolis Capital.  But what’s unusual this year is how third-party and slate groups are benefiting from unlimited donations. Campaign contributions have skyrocketed due to two U.S. Supreme Court rulings in March that removed some donation limits.

ROAD TO ARUNDEL EXEC: The two men who want to be Anne Arundel’s next county executive have taken different routes toward that goal. Pamela Wood of the Sun reports that Republican Steve Schuh, a state delegate, spent 2 1/2 years setting up a network of volunteers and amassing more than $1 million in campaign donations. He won a bruising primary challenge against the sitting executive. Democrat George Johnson, a former county sheriff and current Natural Resources Police superintendent, jumped into the race just a month before the February deadline to file and his primary opponent promptly dropped out.

TWO PG COUNCIL RACES: In Prince George’s County, where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans nearly 10 to 1, most County Council races are settled in the primary. But two contests on the ballot Nov. 4 pit a Democratic nominee against a Republican, writes Arelis Hernández for the Post.

RX POT DELAY: The chairman of a commission tasked with writing new regulations governing recently expanded medical marijuana laws in Maryland said a Tuesday delay on a final vote on those rules would likely be the last, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record. The 15-member state medical marijuana commission had been expected to take up a vote Tuesday on regulations that would clear the way for 15 growers and as many as 94 dispensaries to begin offering the drug to patients under a doctor’s care.

HELP FOR EX-OFFENDERS: The Montgomery County Council, seeking to help ex-offenders­ find their way back into society, voted Tuesday to bar employers from asking job applicants whether they have criminal records until after an initial interview, Bill Turque reports in the Sun.

AND IN W.VA. POLITICS: U.S. House Speaker John Boehner is coming to West Virginia to participate in a get-out-the-vote rally with Republican House candidate Alex Mooney, former Maryland GOP chairman and lawmaker who moved across the border last year, according to an AP report in the Cumberland Times News.