State Roundup, September 21, 2010

GOV’S AIR WAR: The air war in the governor’s race begins in earnest in the D.C. media market today, with a television ad by Gov. Martin O’Malley, in which he claims to have “put education first” despite tough budget times, John Wagner of the Washington Post reports. In reporting about O’Malley’s D.C. ad, Julie Bykowicz of the Sun says that Baltimore TV viewers are treated to far more political ads than DC area residents, mostly because of the price difference. And the Republican Governors Association will spend tens of thousands of dollars in the Baltimore television market this week, marking the group’s debut in Maryland’s hotly contested gubernatorial race and providing another sign that national Republican groups believe the GOP has a shot at picking off a Democratic governor here, Annie Linskey of the Sun blogs.

The RGA is the group that was given $1 million from Fox News‘ owner, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The Post’s Aaron Davis and John Wagner report that the ad is a broad attack on tax increases that O’Malley signed in 2007 and subsequent job losses in the state during the national recession. Maryland Public Television officials are troubled by O’Malley’s use of station footage in a campaign advertisement critical of Ehrlich’s record on taxes, reports the Sun’s Annie Linskey, and have requested that the commercial stop running. But station attorneys say there is no legal problem in O’Malley using the footage. David Collins of WBAL-TV does a fact-check on that particular O’Malley ad.

GOV NECK & NECK: New post-primary poll numbers from Rasmussen Reports put O’Malley’s support at 50 percent; while Ehrlich has 47 percent. The margin for error is plus or minus four points – so the race is still a statistical deadheat, blogs Annie Linskey of the Sun. Nick Sohr of the Daily Record reports on the recent poll. Listen to Steve Fermier’s report for WBAL-Radio.

EHRLICH PRIMARY HOPE: Professor Todd Eberly analyses the gubernatorial primary in a posting on and finds that good news for Ehrlich lies in his winning numbers over Tea Party candidate and Sarah Palin favorite Brian Murphy.

LIGHT RAIL: The O’Malley administration is proposing an infusion of almost $90 million for engineering of two new transit systems — including Baltimore’s east-west Red Line — as part of an otherwise flat $9.4 billion transportation spending plan for the next six years, the Sun’s Michael Dresser reports.

COMMITTEE SHAKEUPS: Thanks to the elections, some General Assembly committees will look a little different come January, Sarah Breitenbach writes for the Gazette. Hardest hit is the House Economic Matters Committee, with seven of its two dozen members leaving or losing.

NO GOP BUCKS: William Campbell has hopes of becoming Maryland’s first Republican comptroller since 1897, but he’ll have to do it without financial backing from the party, reports Benjamin Ford of the Gazette.

U.S. SENATE: Ben Pershing of the Post reports on U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s first campaign ad of the season, which focuses on job creation and not on her opponent, Republican Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Eric Wargotz.

KRATOVIL AD: In the Sun, TV producer Jeff Dugan looks at U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil’s recent ad and found its message wanting.

DISTRICT 34A: Amid the primary election night excitement over the tight Harford County Republican sheriff race and the not-so-tight county executive and County Council races, nearly lost in the shuffle was the upset underway in the Democratic House of Delegates race for District 34A. Brian Goodman of the Dagger writes about Marla Posey-Moss, a high school Spanish teacher and Aberdeen resident – who ran an unspectacular campaign for the same delegation seat in 2006.

SHAY AD: Paul Foer at Capital Punishment provides a link to an amusing video about Anne Arundel County sewer pollution of the Bay from the Green Party candidate for executive, Mike Shay.

BALTO COUNTY EXEC: Lobbyist Bruce Bereano tells Bryan Sears of Patuxent Publishing during the “All Politics is Local Show” hosted by Jay Liner on WCBM 680 AM, that if Democrat Joe Bartenfelder endorses Republican Ken Holt for Baltimore County exec over Bartenfelder’s primary rival Kevin Kamenetz, it could make a dramatic difference in the race. Meanwhile, Andy Rosen blogs for the Sun, Kamenetz got the endorsement of a group of Democratic county court officials, as he continues to try to rally his Democratic party around him.

HIGHWAY RANKLES: Officials and lobbyists defend Maryland’s roads against a recent poor ranking, but see that many improvements could be made, Megan Poinski reports for

SLOTS SHOTS: John Rydell of WBFF-TV reports that a challenge by the Cordish Co. could delay the opening of Perryville’s slots casino.

GRANT CONTROVERSY: OSHA grants are coming under fire from critics who think the money is being used to play politics. Unlike years past, more than half of those grants are going to minority groups or groups that work with immigrants, including Casa de Maryland, reports Michael Buczyner of WBFF-TV.

BROADBAND: Heather Keels of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail reports that U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski said the expansion of high-speed broadband Internet will be a “game changer” for Western Maryland in the way the B&O Railroad once was. She was speaking to a gathering to announce a $115 million federal grant to expand broadband access across the state. “It means over 1,000 jobs just to lay the fiber optics,” Mikulski said. “It’s just like laying railroad tracks.”

GREEN ED: Cathy Gainor of the Washington Examiner reports that environmental education would be required for Maryland high school students under a proposal before the state school board today.

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