State Roundup, October 19, 2010

O’MALLEY LEAD HOLDS: With a margin of error of 3.5 percent, 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. Len Lazarick of writes.

Aaron Davis of the Washington Post reports that while O’Malley still holds the lead, it is smaller than two earlier polls show. Annie Linskey of the Baltimore Sun also reports the story.

RGA CUTS AD FUNDS: The Republican Governors Association canceled tens of thousands of dollars worth of advertising for Ehrlich on Monday, diminishing the group’s support four days before early voting begins, Annie Linskey reports for the Sun.

SERIOUSLY: Columnist Thomas Schaller writes for the Sun that, in the governor’s race, one candidate takes himself too seriously, the other not serious enough.

IN PG COUNTY: The Post’s John Wagner blogs that Ehrlich and O’Malley are spending more time in Prince George’s County and other African-American strongholds.

IN MOCO: Ehrlich is hitting a raw nerve in voter-rich Montgomery County with cost-cutting proposals seemingly aimed at the county’s most treasured and expensive asset: public education, reports Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner.

TAX ROLLBACK? State Senate President Mike Miller says Maryland cannot afford to repeal the 1-cent sales tax increase that passed in 2007, despite Ehrlich’s promise to do so. Alan Brody reports for the Gazette.

WOOS WOMEN TOO: Julie Bykowicz of the Sun reports that O’Malley woos women voters as well as Ehrlich with a new ad featuring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski. The ad is embedded in the blog. Michael Buczyner of WBFF-TV reports on the two ads.

‘NEW AMERICANS:’ Examiner columnist Gregory Kane calls O’Malley’s use of the term “new Americans” pandering to illegal immigrants.

ON TAXES: Brian Griffiths of Red Maryland questions the timing of the meetings of O’Malley’s Business Tax Reform Commission.

ON SLOTS: John Wagner of the Post does a video report on O’Malley and Ehrlich’s views on slots in Maryland and their actions to put casinos in place.

MSEA BACKS O’MALLEY: The Maryland State Education Association sent out its first major mailer of the gubernatorial campaign cycle last week, asking educators to support  O’Malley, reports Sarah Breitenbach of the Gazette.

PENSION REFORM: Hayley Peterson of the Washington Examiner reports that Ehrlich’s intention to force new state employees into 401(k)s stings unions with a pension plan.

BALT CO REFORM: Calling the Baltimore County Council’s efforts to reform its own pensions “very anemic,” Republican candidates for county offices pledge to rein in elected officials’ benefits if voters elect enough of them to office Nov. 2, Frank Roylance reports for the Sun.

Steve Bailey, a Republican candidate for state’s attorney, said reform on the county level “should be a reality if a majority of Republicans are elected to the council,” reports Bryan Sears, soon to be of Barbara Pash of quotes Bailey as saying, “We are drawing a line in the sand. The benefits are far too generous for elected officials.”

1,500 REGISTER: Despite drenching rain, minimal support from the university and apathy about midterm elections, a collection of student groups at the University of Maryland successfully met its goal of registering 1,500 voters in two weeks earlier this month, Sarah Meehan reports for the Diamondback.

CHAMBER FUNDS: Maryland Public Interest Research Group and the League of Women Voters of Maryland have asked the state Chamber of Commerce to lobby the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to disclose whether it is subsidizing election spending on ads and other political activities with foreign funds, reports Kevin James Shay of the Gazette.

CHANGES: Josh Kurtz of Center Maryland envisions waking up on Nov. 3 to find changes in the nation, not in Maryland.

HARRIS SUPER PAC: Paul West of the Sun follows up a Post story on a “Super PAC” with Owings Mills ties. Seems the owner of the Owings Mills company that is the major Super PAC funder also donates to Andy Harris’ campaign for U.S. House and is helping to fund a $149,000 anti-Frank Kratovil ad campaign. Dave Collins of WBAL-TV has a report on the race and the weekend debate between incumbent Kratovil and GOP challenger Harris. Here’s Melinda Roeder’s piece for WBFF-TV.

ORDER IN COURT: The Sun’s opinionmakers write that voters statewide should approve Question 3 requiring Baltimore City’s Orphans’ Court judges to be qualified for office.

WIN-WIN: One company stands to make millions if Maryland’s largest slots casino is built at a suburban outlet mall. Another could benefit big time if the project collapses, John Wagner reports for the Post.

SLOTS FIGHT: Erin Cox of the Annapolis Capital writes about the door-to-door slots battle.

CORDISH CONTRACT: The parent of the Indiana Live! casino is seeking to terminate its multimillion-dollar management contract with the Cordish Cos., despite its solid launch of the venture, Hannah Cho reports for the Sun.

POT RX: Brian Englar of the Frederick News Post writes about the proposal of state Sen. David Brinkley to reintroduce a bill in the General Assembly to legalize the use of medical marijuana.

LOBBYIST DEFINED: Julie Scharper of the Sun reports that any person paid to influence the votes of Baltimore’s elected officials — regardless of the amount they receive — would be required to register as a lobbyist under a measure proposed Monday by Council President Jack Young.

TRANSPORTATION ISSUES: Members of the business community told the Blue Ribbon Commission on Transportation Funding about many of the ways transportation impacts their bottom line, reports Megan Poinski of

AFRO PUBLISHER DIES: John H. Murphy III, the former publisher and chairman of the board of the AFRO American Newspapers in Washington and Baltimore, has died. The grandson of the founder of the newspaper, started in 1892, was 94. Read and view Rob Roblin’s WBAL-TV story here.

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