Dems gut campaign fund GOP wanted to use
Laura Smitherman reports this morning that on the final day of the General Assembly session, Democratic lawmakers approved a plan to take $2 million from a fund available to finance gubernatorial campaigns. Republicans are up in arms about this, given that there's almost no chance Gov. O'Malley will take advantage of it but a Republican might. In fact, Mike Pappas, a Republican attorney who is considering a run for governor, has indicated he might try to use it. Just about anyone other than former Gov. Ehrlich who tries to run from the GOP would probably need it.
Compared to the money that was spent in the last gubernatorial race -- more than $15 million on each side -- the $2 million wouldn't come anywhere close to leveling the playing field between O'Malley and a Republican opponent. And any oddsmaker would have to give O'Malley a major edge in a re-election fight, given the state's demographics, the power of incumbency and his ability to raise money.
But still, you never know if this money would make a difference. Ellen Saurbrey was the last one to use the fund, in 1994, and she came within a few thousand votes of defeating Democrat Parris Glendening. It would take a major storm of voter discontent to replicate the environment in which she was able to come so close, but the world is certainly an unsettled place right now. Anything could happen.
For that reason, expect the GOP to fight this move in court. I'm betting we haven't heard the last of this issue.