State Roundup, October 29, 2010

IT’S THE ECONOMY: Both Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich have focused much of their campaign on fixing the economy, the issue that most Marylanders find far and away to be the most important, reports The Sun’s Annie Liskey.

Ehrlich shared his views at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce conference — which O’Malley could not get to because of a tight pre-election campaign schedule, reports The Daily Record’s Nicholas Sohr.  The Baltimore Business Journal’s Joanna Sullivan also covered Ehrlich’s speech.

The Sun’s editorial board put together this photo collection to show the differences between O’Malley and Ehrlich’s positions on many major issues.

O’MALLEY UPBEAT: The Post’s Anne Marimow reports that O’Malley is feeling good about early voting — with a total of 170,000 people casting ballots so far.

CAMPAIGNING LIKE POLLS DON’T MATTER: From the look of their campaign strategies, The Gazette’s Alan Brody notes observers might think that Ehrlich has a double-digit lead in recent polls — not the other way around.

O’MALLEY INTERVIEW: O’Malley tells The Daily Record’s Nicholas Sohr that he plans to cut regulatory red tape and focus on expanding high-tech business if re-elected, calling criticism that he over-regulates and over-taxes an “old saw.” Video of parts of the interview is on the page.

WJZ’s Vic Carter did a one-on-one with O’Malley, which aired on Thursday night. Carter’s interview with Ehrlich airs today. 

JUDICIAL APPOINTMENTS: Governors also exert their influence through their appointments to the bench, which statistics have shown tend to be partisan — but nominating commission members say are fair, reports’s Megan Poinski.

O’MALLEY IN WASHINGTON COUNTY: O’Malley made a campaign stop in Washington County, touting his record on job creation, budgeting, and taxes, reports The Herald-Mail’s Heather Keel. Video of his visit is on the page.

EHRLICH EYES CHARLES COUNTY: Ehrlich is hoping to win 21 of Maryland’s counties in the election — including a plan to take Charles County, reports The Gazette’s Jeff Newman.

MURPHY EXPLAINS EHRLICH ENDORSEMENT: Former primary rival Brian Murphy explained his endorsement for Ehrlich on WBAL’s Ron Smith Show. The site includes video.

OPINIONS ON GOV RACE: Gazette columnist Blair Lee tries to take the governor’s race spotlight off of advertising messages, and put it back on the issues.  Gazette columnist Barry Rascovar looks at Ehrlich’s campaign, and outlines the circumstances he needs for a win. Columnist Laslo Boyd hones in on Ehrlich’s “unfocused and lackluster campaign.”

Creative Director of MGH ad agency John Patterson says in commentary on that Ehrlich should have been more creative with his ads.

ROLE CHANGES?: Tuesday’s nationwide Congressional elections could have more of an impact on U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Assistant to the U.S. House Speaker Christopher VanHollen, who could both lose their leadership posts if the GOP takes control of the house, reports The Gazette’s C. Benjamin Ford.

WAIT TO JUDGE EARLY VOTING: The State Board of ELections told The Gazette’s Jeff Newman that people should not read too much yet into the popularity of early voting in the general election, since gubernatorial elections in and of themselves tend to bring out larger crowds than primaries.

BIDEN, HOYER STUMP FOR KRATOVIL: At a last-minute fundraiser for Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil, Vice President Joe Biden said that his Republican opponent Andy Harris is “genuinely out of the mainstream,” reports The Sun’s Paul West. Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer also told the crowd that Kratovil was “batting .800-plus” with Democrats on his votes.

FLIER HIGHLIGHTS WHO?: The Kratovil camp has put out a flier highlighting Libertarian Richard Davis, the third person in the hotly contested rematch for the 1st Congressional District, in hopes of drawing votes away from Harris, reports The Sun’s Paul West.  The story was broken by Eastern Shore blogger Michael Swartz earlier this week.

BIG BUCKS BROUGHT TO YOU BY…: Political analysts tell The Gazette’s C. Benjamin Ford that the Kratovil-Harris race — where more than $8 million has been spent so far — would not have so much spending if not for the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling removing corporate campaign spending limits.

DOWN TO THE WIRE: The Gazette’s Alan Brody looks at hard-fought General Assembly campaigns where Democrat are looking to pick up seats long held by Republicans.

CORDISH INQUIRY: Opponents of slots at Arundel Mills are asking Attorney General Douglas Gansler to look into claims that developer David Cordish violated campaign law by offering ownership stakes and perks to businesses in exchange for their support of the casino issue, reports the Sun’s Nicole Fuller. In response, Cordish called the slots opponents “desperate.”

SLOTS ISSUE: Early voting is especially popular in Anne Arundel County because of the slots issue, reports The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach.  The Washington Times runs Brian Witte’s Associated Press story about why the slots issue is so important.

SLOTS SIGNS: Signs on Anne Arundel County school buses urging voters to support the slots referendum have resulted in many calls to the Board of Education, reports The Capital’s Tina Reed. Board of Education officials say that the signs were purchased by the teacher’s union, which has officially supported the referendum.

BAILEY BAILING?: Baltimore County Republican State’s Attorney candidate Scott Bailey — better known for his fiscal responsibility platform — offered to withdraw from the race if his opponent, incumbent Democrat Scott Shellenberger, would take a pay cut and withdraw from the pension plan, reports The Sun’s Raven Hill. Shellenberger did not directly respond to Bailey, saying the race should be about law and order.

BALTO COUNTY ISSUE: Baltimore County residents will vote next week on whether to make all of the county’s “general” unionized employees subject to binding arbitration — meaning that permanent decisions on labor disputes like salary levels would be made by an arbitrator, reports The Sun’s Raven Hill. County Executive James Smith is urging people to vote no, saying it could have devastating impact on the county’s ability to maintain a responsible budget.

MOCO VOTING GUIDE: The Sentinel’s Paige Hill put together a guide to candidates for Montgomery County races.  Spencer Broughten wrote up the guide for General Assembly seats.

YOUNG POLITICAL HOPEFULS: The Post’s Hamil Harris profiles 18-year-old friends David Murray and Edward Burroughs, both seeking seats on the Prince George’s County Board of Education.

HOCO COURTHOUSE CAMPAIGNERS: The Sun’s Larry Carson reports that some of the fiercest campaigning in Howard County is coming from people vying for courthouse jobs, including Orphans’ Court, Register of Wills, and Clerk of Courts.

HARFORD COUNTY: The race for the District 34 state Senate seat between incumbent Sen. Nancy Jacobs and former Sen. Art Helton is getting extremely expensive, reports Allan Vought of The Aegis. The story goes on to cover campaign finances for the races for county sheriff, House of Delegates, and county council.  County election officials expect about a 65 percent voter turnout, The Aegis’ Vought also reported.

CECIL COUNTY CHARTER: Cecil County voters will be casting ballots up or down on charter reform that would place power in a county executive, rather than split executive and legislative powers between five county commissioners, reports Bryna Zurner of The Record. 

CAPITAL CAMPAIGN NOTES: Reporters from the Annapolis Capital share notes from the campaign trail on the escalating cost of the Anne Arundel county executive race, endorsements received by county candidates this week, and upcoming meetings of several political groups.

DISTRICT 3 SENATE: The Frederick News-Post’s Meg Tully reports on the growing acrimony in the District 3 battle between incumbent Sen. Alex Mooney and former Frederick Mayor Ron Young.

DISTRICT 2B DELEGATES: Democrat Brien J. Poffenberger and Republican Neil Parrott, vying for the District 2B House of Delegates seat, debated Thursday at Boonsboro High School, reports Andrew Schotz of the Herald-Mail.

DISTRICT 2C CANDIDATES: The Herald-Mail’s Andrew Schotz puts the positions of Democrat incumbent Del. John Donoghue and His Republican opponent Cort Meinelschmidt on paper and online.

MUNSON WRITE-IN CAMPAIGN: Sen. Donald Munson, who lost his seat in the primary to Del. Christopher Shank, has filed to be a write-in candidate, reports WBAL’s Jenny Glick.

GAZETTE NOTEBOOK: The Gazette’s reporters share political tidbits about the morning-after-election Board of Public Works meeting, Ehrlich’s Facebook fans, and dubious connections of Californian — and Maryland GOP Senate Slate supporter — Fred Sacher.

SLOTS IMPACT: It is too soon to tell whether slots will help the state’s bottom line, reports The Gazette’s Sarah Breitenbach.

HALLOWEEN POETRY: Annapolis Capital Punishment’s Paul John Foer pens an election-season Halloween poem.

NEW PATUXENT COLUMNIST: Steven Schuster, the new political correspondent and columnist for Patuxent Publishing, introduces himself and solicits tips and suggestions.

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