Saturday, October 30, 2010

11th Hour Campaign Developments...

Two things worth commenting on in the governor’s race today.

First, the Baltimore Sun endorsed Governor O’Malley. I am sure Republicans across the state are feigning shock upon learning that news. After all, the Sun’s 2002 and 2006 endorsements of (respectively) Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Martin O’Malley were mere anti-Ehrlich partisan polemics.

But, while the Sun’s decision didn’t surprise me, the substance and tone of this endorsement did.

I found it thoughtful, well-argued, and even-keeled. Even people who disagree with the Sun’s conclusions cannot accuse the paper of knee-jerk partisan rationale based on a fair reading. The Sun actually does something that few would ever have imagined possible, especially in light of Ehrlich’s stormy history with the paper: It says a few nice things about him.

Andy Green, the Sun’s editorial page editor, covered both Ehrlich and O’Malley in Annapolis. He is uniquely positioned to comment on the strengths and failing of both men. It is clear that he applied that knowledge in a manner intended to render what he believed to be a fair, intellectually-honest assessment.

Second, Bob Ehrlich scheduled a GOTV rally today in Dundalk. The Washington Post’s John Wagner reported that fewer than 100 people attended the event, where speakers included controversial Ehrlich political consultant Julius “Bobby Ehrlich is a Nazi” Henson and nonagenarian ex-Governor Marvin Mandel.

I have been critical of Team Ehrlich’s over-reliance on past campaign strategies, and the Dundalk rally is yet another example of this phenomenon. Every Ehrlich campaign dating back to 1994 has had some sort of closing event in Dundalk, so obviously they "needed" to have one there this time. Few doubt that Ehrlich will do quite well there, as well as in Baltimore County as a whole, so I question the rally’s necessity.

Hopefully the campaign’s GOTV strategy also factors in Howard and Frederick counties – counties they also need to win big which have shifted demographically compared to 2002.  That’s where I’d advise them to spend much of the next 50-plus hours or so.

Similarly, Ehrlich wheeled out former Governor Mandel in 2002, and is apparently content to do it again this year. I respect Governor Mandel as a statesman as well as Maryland's most effective governor in my lifetime (criminal justice issues notwithstanding). But, his endorsement at a rally in Dundalk isn’t going to change any minds or inspire people to vote. When they think about Mandel, people wonder "Is he still alive?"- not "Who does he support for governor?"

Plus, that narrow podium looked a little dangerous. I wouldn’t want him to teeter off and break a hip or something.


  1. Doesn't the Baltimesun realize Maryland ALREADY has 401k plus other such plans for state workers? I assume Ehrlich doesn't.

  2. RJC, don't be so sure Ehrlich is going to roll through Baltimore County. O'Malley has worked that county quietly but very effectively on the ground and through phone banking. In fact, based on the percentage of Dem turnout in early voting. . .well, lets just say Bob has a lot of heavy lifting to do in the next couple days.

  3. Yes, O'Malley had ground forces out in Baltimore County during early voting. Andy Green has a man crush on Bob Ehrlich.

  4. Could Bob actually lose Baltimore County? Just curious-- I don't know that part of the state very well.

  5. Barely won it last time. Probably not, however O'Malley is working the county very hard, door to door and phones. With the way this race has broken open, it is not unforeseeable.