Assembly celebrates opening with fanfare, pledges of unity and doses of reality

Maryland’s General Assembly opened its 2011 session Wednesday to much fanfare, a combination of first day of school, high school pep rally, and college graduation. But there were many reminders of the difficult road ahead.

Comments in the House Chamber referred to the new group of delegates as a “rowdy bunch,” as delegates rose to their feet and cheered on numerous occasions. There are 30 new delegates out of 141 members: 16 new Republicans and 14 new Democrats.

O’Malley continues to lead Ehrlich in latest poll, 47% to 42%, with few undecided

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley leads Republican ex-gov. Bob Ehrlich 47% to 42%, with only 6% of the electorate undecided, according to a Gonzales Research poll taken last week. Four percent will vote for one of the three minor-party candidates.

The poll of 816 likely voters interviewed by telephone last week is the latest survey in the past month to show O’Malley pulling ahead in the race, despite the fact that Gonzales expects Republican voter turnout to be higher than usual and Democrats to turn out in fewer numbers. The margin of error is 3.5%.

Easy filing for major party candidates makes for crowded primary ballots

Easy filing for major party candidates makes for crowded primary ballots
By Megan Poinski

Megan@MarylandReporter.com

Maryland voters wondering why there are so many candidates running for so many offices, including some of the most prestigious, may not be surprised to learn that Maryland is one of the easiest states for major party candidates to get on the ballot. In a prime example, 20 challengers – six Democrats, 11 Republicans, and one each from the Green, Constitution and Libertarian parties – are vying to take the seat of longtime Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who is seeking a fifth six-year term.   

In order to get on the ballot, these Senate candidates needed only to cough up a $290 filing fee — as long as they met federal age and campaign finance requirements. Unlike other states, they didn’t need to come up with thousands in a filing fee or collect signatures on a petition. Appearing in person in the Board of Elections office to file the paperwork could actually be the most challenging part of getting on the ballot. “We have a low standard here,” said Jared DeMarinis, director of the candidacy and campaign finance division of the State Board of Elections.

UPDATE: Gansler, 10 state senators may get free ride to re-election

By Len Lazarick
Len@MarylandReporter.com

Attorney General Doug Gansler and 10 state senators have a “free ride” to re-election, with no opponent filed in either the party primary or general election after Tuesday’s filing deadline. Party central committees have two weeks to name a candidate in races for which no one has filed. There is an abundance of candidates for Congress, with all incumbents facing opposition in the primary or general elections. U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, despite her record of winning 60% of the vote or more in every contest since 1976, has drawn 26 challengers: six Democrats – including two named Taylor – 11 Republicans, three unaffiliated candidates, and representatives of the Green, Libertarian and Constitution parties. State Sen. Andy Harris, running again in the 1st Congressional District, gained a primary opponent last Wednesday in Rob Fisher.

Filing deadline tonight for candidates; some get free ride

By Len Lazarick
Len@MarylandReporter.com
Updated with noon list. As tonight’s 9 p.m. filing deadline for candidates for state and local office draws closer, some incumbents look like they will coast to new terms, while others will face tough battles to retain their seats. UPDATED: As of Tuesday at noon, when the State Board of Elections last updated its candidate list, Attorney General Doug Gansler and a dozenstate senators – a quarter of the Senate, 10 of them Democrats – have a “free ride” to re-election, with no opponent filed in either the party primary or general election. That could change today if someone files against them. It could also change in the weeks ahead, because party central committees can name a candidate in races for which no one has filed.