An online journal of politics, policy, and society with a special focus on Maryland -- Contact: on_background at yahoo.com.

Friday, May 26, 2006

MD Clips

Excerpts from National Journal's clips on Maryland politics:

May 22

A Bigger Presence

Duncan went up with another set of ads in the Baltimore market 5/19
(see 5/19 Hotline), part of a nearly $300K push that demonstrates "a
tactically aggressive yet potentially risky strategy" to compete with
O'Malley. A review of Baltimore TV station records shows that Duncan's camp
has aired 400 spots since 5/3, most of them on WBAL-TV on the network's
highest-rated shows, including "Oprah" and "Dr. Phil." UMBC prof. James
Gimpel: "Duncan has made a race with a pretty scanty budget. The fact that
Duncan has closed the gap with sparse resources suggests that O'Malley is
not an unassailable king of the hill."

By airing the ads during sweeps month, Duncan got his message out
before most voters "tune out" TV during summer vacations. The first spot was
bio, while the last four "have taken a hard-hitting turn that O'Malley and
Ehrlich officials have characterized as negative." Duncan's camp reported
$1.4M CoH 1/06, far behind O'Malley and Ehrlich. But Duncan spokesperson
Jody Couser said the ads and Duncan's running mate selection "have generated
a new surge of fundraising for the campaign" (Donovan, Baltimore Sun, 5/20).

May 23

Senate: MARYLAND: Teaching Cardin A Lesson?

Ex-NAACP Pres./ex-Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D) "was basking in the
overwhelming endorsement" of the MD State Teachers' Assn., as Rep. Ben
Cardin (D-03) "was haunted by actions he took on teacher pensions" as MD
House speaker in the '80s. The MSTA gave Mfume over 80% of the vote 5/20.
Mfume: "I was very pleased at the endorsement, because it represented months
of work reaching out and talking to teachers."

It was an "unusual loss of a labor endorsement for Cardin, who has
gotten the backing of the" MD and DC AFL-CIO "and most of the major unions,"
and has raised 5 times as much money as Mfume. "Several people who attended
the event attributed the loss to Cardin's role in changing the state pension
system for teachers" in '79 and '84, which "reduced future benefits and
angered most teachers." Cardin spokesperson Oren Shur: "There's been a lot
of misinformation ... Ben Cardin led the fight to give teachers more pension
options" (Lazarick, Baltimore Examiner, 5/23).

Only Donald Trump Can Fire At Will

The cmte investigating Gov. Bob Ehrlich's (R) personnel practices
concluded hearings 5/22. After nine months, lawmakers disagree about whether
the gov's staff violated state employment laws or "simply acted callously in
forcing out hundreds of longtime workers without warning or cause." Dems
"say they have uncovered a pattern of behavior by Ehrlich appointees that
merits further review." State Speaker Mike Busch (D): "I think the integrity
of state government has been compromised" (Skalka, Baltimore Sun, 5/23).

Internal memos released 5/22 suggest that ex-Ehrlich aide Joe Steffen
"wielded broad influence" in personnel decisions, and worked "around a
Cabinet secretary who was resisting efforts to fire" certain employees.
Steffen, in an '03 memo: "I will work on building cases against a number of
individuals who appear to be on everyone's list -- save Secretary
Montague's. ... It's not standard process or chain of command, but those
niceties are not going to work in this situation." Ehrlich Appointments Sec.
Lawrence Hogan denied that Steffen played a central role in decisions and
denied partisan bias in personnel moves. Hogan: "This administration is
unique in Maryland history. It's the first time where we did not consider
party affiliation" (Rivera, Washington Post, 5/23).

May 24

Volunteer For Steele

Senate Maj. Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) will headline a 6/22 Steele
fundraiser at a private home in Ashton, MD (e-mail invite, 5/24).

May 26

Senate: MARYLAND: It's Tough Getting To 51% For A MD GOPer

JHU prof./Rep. Ben Cardin (D-MD) supporter Tom Schaller writes Gov.
Bob Ehrlich (R) and LG Michael Steele (R) "are running at cross purposes."
Each "has a different calculus for reaching a majority." Steele "hopes to
capture a larger share of the black vote than the estimated" 12% the
Ehrlich-Steele ticket received in '02. "Improving on that figure means
Steele must attract voters in Baltimore City and, especially," PG Co.

"Ehrlich's coalition is based on support from white suburbanites in
the greater Baltimore metropolitan region. Ehrlich's vote shares in the 'Big
6' counties that ring" Baltimore City were: Anne Arundel, 65%; Baltimore,
61%; Carroll, 79%; Frederick, 66%; Harford, 74%; and Howard, 55%. "Actions
past and present by Ehrlich are creating problems for Steele, however, as he
attempts to build a somewhat different constituency in the state's two,
majority-minority jurisdictions."

"Big turnouts among African-Americans" are "potentially dangerous for
Ehrlich." He won just 24% of Baltimore City votes and 23% in PG.
African-Americans are 30% of the population, but only 25% of age-eligible
voters and closer to 22% of the actual electorate. "Ehrlich can win with
little support from them, as he did in 2002. Steele can't. For him, the
danger is that Ehrlich's actions will be (rightly) perceived by
African-American voters as another attempt" to "defenestrate them. Ehrlich
is undermining Steele's efforts to portray himself as a new type" of GOPer.
"If Steele doesn't rebuke Ehrlich, he risks losing credibility from the very
voters that are part of his potential winning coalition, but not part of
Ehrlich's" (Washington Examiner, 5/26).

The Ehrlich Issue Gets Bumped Down A Bit

Opponents of an LNG facility in Dundalk said 5/25 that they'll file an
ethics complaint against Ehrlich's personal atty., David Hamilton, for
violating the state ban on fundraising by a lobbyist. LNG Opposition Team
atty. Bart Fisher: "We're up against mighty corporate forces. We're at least
entitled to fairness in the process." Hamilton heads the gov't relations
practice of his firm, and is a member of the gov's campaign finance cmte
(see 5/24 Hotline). Ehrlich spokesperson Henry Fawell said the gov. has
opposed the LNG plant, but activists said Hamilton's activities "make them
wonder just how hard the governor has been working against the plan" (Green,
Baltimore Sun, 5/26).

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Chuckie Lives!

So just in case you've been wondering if you should be open minded enough to consider someone other than Ike Leggett or Steve Silverman for County Exec, we've read Chuck Floyd's blog so you don't have to. With gems like "Instead CASA and others, with the full support of Mr. Silverman and the County Council, have turned Montgomery County into a safe haven for drug dealers and criminals, and have further established Montgomery County as a Mecca for illegal immigrantion" and headlines like "Montgomery County - Gang Enabler" you need wonder no longer. While he might get your attention by encouraging civic activism and attacking the County for being in developers' pockets, Floyd's demonization of immigrants and vitriol will soon remind you why you'll vote Democratic.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Absence of Character and More

Today Montgomery County Councilmember Tom Perez Kicked off his campaign for Attorney General with the usual public event and some biting words.

Perez received a strong endorsement from Curran's predecessor as Maryland attorney general, Stephen Sachs, who served two terms from 1978 to 1986.
"I am drawn to Tom Perez because of what I will call, simply, character," Sachs said. "Character is difficult to define, but it is palpable nonetheless. You know it when you see it, and you notice when you don't."

Gee, I wonder who Sachs was talking about?

The talk of fmr MD Dems ExDir Josh White taking over at O’Malley headquarters begs the question of what role he'll actually play with the candidate's brother as "Deputy Campaign Manager." Will White just be the one who makes the trains run on time while the younger O'Malley and other long-time friends call the plays and devise the strategy?

As you look toward September and then November, you might want to take a look at the Gazette’s lists of most and least effective legislators. You’ll notice that D20's Ida Ruben is one of the least effective

And I’m not the first to question whether Owens and Franchot cancel each other out to Willie Don's benefit in the Comptroller's race. Suddenly politics in Montgomery and Maryland generally is hopping!

Monday, May 22, 2006


A reader reminds us that “Mfume was endorsed by MSTA on Saturday, and overwhelmingly (80%+ of the vote).”

Amid discussion of a new campaign manager for O'Malley, the Post reports "A poll last month by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, for example, showed O'Malley leading by nine percentage points among likely Democratic primary voters. Another statewide poll, conducted about the same time by OpinionWorks, showed a margin of 17 points."

Anthony Brown is claiming that he and O'Malley will beat Duncan in Montgomery County.

And it seems that the Baltimore City Council President is looking for a CoS and a Coms person, but can't seem to find good people.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Santorum on the run

While the PA Senate race has always been tight, I was a bit surprised to read in the New Republic that "Even Republicans have privately started to refer to Santorum's campaign as a lost cause and are lobbying party leaders to shift money to more promising contests."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Maryland's 4th

For those not exactly excited by the representation we've been getting from Al Wynn in Congress, he has a challenger: Donna Edwards.

from http://www.thewhitehouseproject.org/v2/events/20060803-Chile.html
Donna F. Edwards is the executive director of the Arca Foundation in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the Arca Foundation, Ms. Edwards was the first executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, which she co-founded and chaired. A longtime campaign reform advocate, Ms. Edwards also headed the Center for a New Democracy and was a lobbyist for the nonprofit Public Citizen organization. Ms. Edwards participates on numerous nonprofit boards, including the NNEDV, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause and the League of Conservation Voters.

As a grantmaker, Ms. Edwards is co-chair of the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation. For 10 years, Ms. Edwards served as trustee of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire, from which she received her juris doctor degree. She completed undergraduate studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. Ms. Edwards began her career at the United Nations Development Program and was a systems engineer for Lockheed Corporation with NASA’s Space Shuttle program in the 1980’s. Ms. Edwards has appeared on ABC’s Nightline, CNN Crossfire, McLaughlin One on One, NBC’s Today Show, and on numerous other local, national and international news and information programs. Ms. Edwards has authored articles on civic participation, violence against women, election law issues, and community and economic development. Ms. Edwards lives in Fort Washington, Maryland, with her seventeen-year-old son Jared.
Donna Edwards
Executive Director, Arca Foundation
Donna F. Edwards is the executive director of the Arca Foundation, which engages in grantmaking that empowers citizens to shape public policy in the pursuit of social equity and justice. Recent commitments include strengthening independent journalism and media policy, advocacy and support for workers and families affected by multiple corporate accounting scandals, death penalty education and moratoriums, and genuine campaign and election reform. Additionally, she serves on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including the Proteus Fund and Green Corps, and is a trustee of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. Previously, she was the executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

More Local



Info Sources:

Know more? Email on_background at yahoo.com. Someday I might even update the site to include more stuff.


Apparently either Janet Owens or Peter Franchot are polling to see if and how they can take Willie Don in the Comptroller’s race. Apparently this includes questions that ask about the incumbent’s ridiculous behavior and whether he should retire.

Posted in this space recently was a link to Ida Ruben’s invitation to a breakfast that first featured Al Wynn, then Ike Leggett, and now has been switched to George Leventhal. What’s the deal? Who supports her?

And for the sake of equality, I should mention that her challenger, AU law prof. Jamin Raskin, is having an event Saturday with Jesse Jackson, Jr. in our neighborhood.

Also, I was corrected by a reader that Kweisi Mfume wasn’t picked by the state teachers for a Senate endorsement yet – it’s still in the process.

Thanks to Mocoprogressive for an interesting article on Doug Gansler: http://mocoprogressive.blogspot.com/2006/05/gansler-announces-for-ag.html#links

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Web Politics

Is Ike Leggett endorsing Ida Ruben? Her web site seems to suggest that. And what happened to the previous text that said Al Wynn was headlining that event? Interesting developments...

And speaking of Wynn, word is that his challenger is hitting the campaign trail hard.

Whatever you may think of her, D20 Democratic candidate for state delegate Heather Mizeur has put together one of the most professional campaign sites of anyone in a state or local race. Wow, that must have cost a bundle.

With Derrick Berlage out of the race for Chair of Planning Board, wags suggest that former Chair Royce Hanson is the most likely pick, even as a number of experienced candidates get into the mix.

Take a gander at the results of the 2002 or 1998 elections to get an idea of where D20 people are coming from (and going).

Lastly, it is interesting that the state teachers picked Mfume in the Senate race. A friend of his said a few months ago that if he didn't have at least $1 million by the end of May he wasn't viable. Anyone know where he is on that?