State Roundup, September 24, 2010

STATE CENTER: The developer of the $1.5 billion State Center redevelopment in Midtown Baltimore would delay breaking ground on the project by at least a month unless city officials approve a financial incentive package for its construction, Daniel Sernovitz reports in the BBJ. John Rydell has the video report for WBFF-TV.

JOBS TUSSLE: Gov. Martin O’Malley claimed some credit for the small business-lending bill that passed Congress, and lumped himself in with congressional Democrats saying “we’ve made real progress in getting credit flowing again to our small businesses, enabling them to expand and create new jobs for hardworking Americans.” Meanwhile, a mixed jobs report that a state agency posted briefly online last month and that ran counter to a more positive job-growth assessment offered by O’Malley, appeared to resurface on the website of the Maryland Republican Party, Aaron Davis blogs for the Washington Post. Click here to see the report.

Relatively few employers have applied to claim a state tax credit for hiring Marylanders off the unemployment rolls, raising questions about its effectiveness as a job-creation tool, Jamie Hopkins reports in the Baltimore Sun.

O’MALLEY-EHRLICH DEBATE?: While Gov. Martin O’Malley and former gov Bob Ehrlich say they are eager to debate, negotiations are going slowly to determine their format and structure, reports The Gazette’s Alan Brody.

FOP BACK EHRLICH: For the third time, former Gov. Bob Ehrlich won the endorsement of the 18,000 member Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police, writes the Post’s Aaron Davis.

BIZ CHIEFS BACK O’MALLEY: O’Malley announced yesterday that he has the backing of 200 business leaders “from every corner of the state,” which could bolster O’Malley’s street cred among business types after he lost some of his ammunition this week, Nick Sohr writes for the Daily Record.

O’MALLEY IN MOCO: O’Malley conducted his first Montgomery County kitchen table talk of the 2010 election season with a group of not-so-talkative Montgomery County College students. Annie Linskey reports the story for the Sun.

DEM VOTERS: Campaign strategists tell The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach that getting Maryland’s Obama voters to the polls on Election Day is crucial for Gov. Martin O’Malley. Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar agrees, writing that voter motivation will make the difference in the race.

BIDEN BULLISH: Vice President Joe Biden pitched in for the reelection campaign of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, telling attendees at a breakfast fundraiser that they needed to help her win by a big margin in November. Ben Pershing of the Post was there.

GOP PLEDGES: Republican candidates for the House of Delegates signed a “Prosperity Pledge for Maryland” that advocates rolling back some 2007 tax increases, fighting federal health care mandates and term-limiting committee chairmanships in Annapolis, among other things, John Wagner blogs in the Post. At the same time, Ed O’Keefe of the Post reports, U.S. House Republicans made their “Pledge to America,” saying they want to stop hiring federal employees not working on defense, homeland security or veterans concerns, a proposal long anticipated by federal worker unions and supportive Democrats. View the video report of WBAL-TV‘s Dave Collins. And the written article also contains updates on O’Malley’s kitchen table talks.

NO MONEY: Republican Comptroller candidate William Campbell learned he can get in-kind contributions from the state’s GOP party, but not money. The party has a total bank account balance of $7,827 and outstanding obligations of $32,813, reports The Gazette’s C. Benjamin Ford.

BOEHNER FOR HARRIS: U.S. Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, the man who would succeed Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House if Republicans win majority control in November, is coming to Maryland this weekend to fundraise for Andy Harris, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil in Maryland’s First Congressional District, Paul West reports for the Sun.

FRANCHOT: Comptroller Peter Franchot blasted the Washington Examiner’s story about his views on the Purple Line, calling it “such a gross misrepresentation of my longtime position on Maryland’s Purple Line project.” He also invited the Examiner to “actually send a reporter to a Board of Public Works meeting in order to ensure accurate and fair coverage.” Maryland Politics Watch printed Franchot’s press release. To read the whole statement, scroll down the page a bit.

FREDERICK DELEGATES: Final unofficial results from the Sept. 14 primary revealed two Frederick County Republican delegate races came down to fewer than 10 votes, writes Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post. Also winning in that race is Scott Rolle, who quit campaigning in July to film a TV series, but won anyway. He still hasn’t decided whether to accept the nomination. Tully also gives a roundup of political happenings in her area.

SHERIFF CONTROVERSY: Outgoing Montgomery County Sheriff Raymond Kight told The Gazette’s Margie Hyslop that he directed chief deputy Darren Mark Popkin to wear his uniform at campaign events as a way to show his 25 years of law enforcement experience — and that Popkin could wear his uniform under law if directed to do so by a supervisor.

TRANSPORTATION FUNDING: The Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding, a new group designed to replenish the transportation trust fund, meets for the first time next week, The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach reports.

LIBERTARIAN PROFILED: Lindsey McPherson of the Laurel Leader profiles Bryan Walker, a Libertarian candidate for House of Delegates.

‘WEIR’ FAMILY MATTERS: The Sun’s Raven Hill follows up on the controversy surrounding state Senate candidate Rebecca Lynn Nelson’s use of the name “Weir” with an interview with her cousin, Del. Michael Weir, who didn’t endorse in this race. 

COMMITTEE RESHUFFLING: With several new and changing faces expected in Annapolis next year, General Assembly leadership will have the task of reshuffling several committees, report The Gazette’s Alan Brody and Sarah Breitenbach.

NO REGRETS: Del. Charles Jenkins, ousted last week in the primary by Republican candidate Michael Hough, tells The Gazette’s Sherry Greenfield he has no regrets and is glad the campaign is over. 

ANTI-INCUMBENT SENTIMENT: Looking like a pattern observed nationwide, the primary election ousted a majority of incumbents in Carroll, Garrett and Allegany counties, reports The Gazette’s Erin Cunningham.

CAMPAIGN SIGNS: Before the GOP primary, Wicomico County exec candidate Joe Ollinger vowed to abstain from putting campaign signs on lawns and urged other candidates to do the same. That’s why some are wondering why large Ollinger signs are on major roadways. He has purchased 32 signs that spell out his name in Google-style lettering and put “county executive” in the search engine box, the Salisbury Daily Times’ Greg Latshaw reports.

GANSLER TO SPEAK: Annapolis Capital’s Political Notes highlights Attorney General Doug Gansler Sunday speech before a medical group; plus a lot of other events, including an open candlelight vigil to be held at 6 p.m. tomorrow in remembrance of Natasha Pettigrew, the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate who was killed Sunday as she rode her bike.

SLOTS: Nick Sohr of the Daily Record reports that Stephen Martino will set foot in the state’s first working casino tomorrow, leaving behind for a few hours all the distractions the last five months have brought the new head of Maryland’s State Lottery Agency. Everything is on track for the Hollywood Casino Perryville to open next week — just in time to become an issue in the gubernatorial campaign, reports The Gazette’s Alan Brody.

HEALTH REFORM: As the first of the national health care reform measures kicked in this week, scores of human resources and other executives from Maryland companies got a sobering presentation about how the new law will affect them from a national expert on employee benefits, Len Lazarick reports for

GREEN PARTY: The Green Party will meet this weekend to select a new gubernatorial candidate after nominee Natasha Pettigrew died earlier this week after being hit by a sport utility vehicle while biking, reports The Gazette’s Ken Sain and Daniel Valentine.

PENSIONS: Editorial writers for the Daily Record say that the state pension system needs a serious look, but with the ink barely dry on the appointments to the commission that will review the sustainability of the system, the battle lines are already forming.

FEDERAL PLAN: Federal legislation passed by Congress this week that creates a $30 billion lending fund for small businesses, including a $1.5 billion for states, was modeled after the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority, reports The Gazette’s Kevin James Shay.

MORE ON OPEN PRIMARIES: In his Gazette column this week, Blair Lee responds to Ellen Sauerbrey, who does not feel that the state should open its primaries to increase participation in elections.

LOW TURNOUT: Gail Ewing examines turnout for the primary election in a commentary in The Gazette, looking at the reasons for low voter turnout.

GAZETTE NOTEBOOK: This week, Gazette political reporters round up Bo Harmon’s return to the campaign trail, Dems talking over O’Malley and Mikulski, Howard County Exec Kenneth Ullman’s lack of farm equipment-driving skills, primary voters dumping alcohol tax supporters, GOP galas, and House of Delegates candidate Brien Poffenberger’s culinary equivalent.

GREEN ED: The Frederick News Post editorial writers are lining up with others in the state to back the new environment education requirement passed earlier this week by the state Board of Education.

TESTING: Maryland’s students have either matched or outperformed their peers nationwide on the National Assessment of Educational Progress since 2005, reports The Gazette’s Andrew Ujifusa.

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