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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).