« November 2009 | Main | January 2010 »

December 31, 2009

Eight apply for job of Frederick County delegate

After a bit of a flap documented in this piece published by The Gazette, the Frederick County Republican Central Committee has released the names of the eight people who have applied to fill a legislative seat vacated earlier this month.

They are: Ronald S. Bird, William G. Folden, Mike Hough, Charles A. Jenkins, John R. Lovell, Jr., Roger W. McArthur, Katie Nash, and J.R. Younkins.

A nominating committee will review the applications and meet Sunday to decide which three candidates can progress to the interview stage. Interviews will take place Wednesday, and the committee will forward its choice to Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, for approval. The process is detailed here.

The vacancy -- which looks to be filled in time for the Jan. 13 kickoff of the 90-day legislative session -- came about because Del. Richard B. Weldon Jr., recently stepped down to become executive assistant to Frederick Mayor Randy McClement.

Weldon was a Republican until September 2008, at which time he left the party to become an Independent.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 12:44 PM | | Comments (0)

December 30, 2009

'Ehrlich for Governor?'

Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., for Governor? That question is posed not by Maryland's Republican former governor, but by the Democratic current governor in a dispatch e-mailed today.

Gov. Martin O'Malley's campaign is employing "The Ehrlich Factor" as a money-raising tactic, saying it's important to bulk up its coffers just in case. Ehrlich served a four-year term and lost to O'Malley in 2006. He has been publicly toying with the idea of a rematch on his radio show and elsewhere but has yet to announce an official decision.

Here are the opening lines of the O'Malley campaign e-mail:

"Robert Ehrlich claims he still doesn't know whether he'll run for governor next year.

But there's one thing he does know for sure: he's got plenty of friends ready to bankroll his campaign."

The e-mail goes on to quote from a Nov. 19 Maryland Politics blog entry by Paul West, in which Ehlrich says he could raise $10 million to $12 million, despite the poor economy.

O'Malley, like all Maryland lawmakers, can't accept campaign donations during the 90-day legislative session that begins Jan. 13, which is among the GOP's "pretty significant built-in advantages," the e-mail notes.

It's easy to wonder whether the media are the only ones pondering a rematch between Ehrlich and O'Malley. But today's e-mail shows that the governor himself is similarly intrigued.

Here's who else is in the gubernatorial race queue:

* One of Ehrlich's former cabinet members, Lawrence J. Hogan Jr.

* Baltimore County Republican Del. Patrick L. McDonough

* On the Democratic side, former delegate (who also served in Ehrlich's cabinet) George W. Owings III (He confirmed through his Facebook "fan" page that he'll be officially announcing his run at a rally Jan. 6 in Prince Frederick.)

* Libertarian candidate Susan Gaztañaga (You can read about her in this post.)

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 4:40 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010

December 28, 2009

Candidate Watch: Primary challenger '4' O'Malley?

Looks like George W. Owings III, a former state delegate and Calvert County Democrat, is little more than a week away from announcing his run for governor.

Owings, 64, has been contemplating a primary challenge of Gov. Martin O'Malley since at least May, when he told The Baltimore Sun that he sees "a lot of good, solid, working-class Democrats with serious concerns about the direction we are taking."

The former majority whip, who served as secretary of veterans affairs under Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., has been a sharp critic of O'Malley's fiscal policies.

He disagreed with O'Malley's decision to raise the sales tax during a 2007 special session and took issue with the governor's personal lobbying to repeal the death penalty this year.

In a conversation this morning with The Sun, Owings, who resides in Dunkirk, said he'll "make it official" on Jan. 6, at a morning news conference on the courthouse steps in Prince Frederick. That announcement date was first reported by The Gazette's Alan Brody.

How certain can we be that Owings is going to say he's running for governor? Just check out his e-mail name: "owings4governor."

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:32 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010

December 18, 2009

Plans for slots in Baltimore dashed; jockeying continues elsewhere

The twists and turns that have come to define Maryland's nascent slot-machine program continued yesterday.

The biggest blow came from a state commission that dashed plans for the Celebration Casino in downtown Baltimore by tossing a bid for a slots license from Baltimore City Entertainment Group. The group had proposed building a 3,750-machine casino near the city sports stadiums but never coughed up the necessary licensing fees. Read more below.

Meanwhile, jockeying continues over who will put slots in Anne Arundel County. Penn National Gaming Inc. is one of six bidders vying to buy Laurel Park, where some say slots should be located. But Baltimore developer Cordish Cos. wants to put slots at Arundel Mills mall, and he's gotten the nod from the state slots commission. For that story, click here.

City slots parlor rejected
Md. panel frustrated by developer's failure to pay required fees

Maryland's slots commission rejected Thursday a bid to build a casino in downtown Baltimore, a decision that will delay much-needed revenue for the state and hamper city efforts to cut property taxes.

Commissioners said they were frustrated by the Baltimore City Entertainment Group's failure to meet deadlines or to pay millions of dollars in required fees, as well as a lack of clarity about who would control the project.

Chairman Donald C. Fry said the panel had been "more than patient" during the 10 months it weighed the Baltimore proposal, but decided not to wait longer because of "considerable doubt that additional time will produce a complete proposal."

The commission's unanimous decision marks another setback for the fledgling slots program in Maryland, which many had hoped would provide needed tax revenue amid repeated budget shortfalls. It means that two of the five casino sites approved last fall by Maryland voters are nonstarters and must be rebid, while another location at Arundel Mills mall is mired in a county zoning debate. The Anne Arundel facility is considered the biggest potential money-maker.

Mayor Sheila Dixon, who had promised that Baltimore's share of slots revenue would go directly to a property tax cut, expressed disappointment that the license was not granted.

"We did everything we were supposed to do," Dixon said. "I'm not sure if these facilities are a true priority for the state."

For the full story, click here.

Posted by Laura Smitherman at 8:45 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Slots

December 17, 2009

Lawmakers to O'Malley: Zero increase to state budget

Lawmakers told Gov. Martin O'Malley that he shouldn't increase spending next year by one penny. The Spending Affordability Committee, a bipartisan panel, held a late-night session to recommend a flat state budget. That includes the funding that the General Assembly controls, excluding federal funds.

The panel's recommendations are not binding, but their decision sends a strong signal to the governor. A budget from O'Malley won't be unveiled until next month, and officials already have said it would follow the panel's guidance. Republicans, however, think the committee should have recommended a far more austere budget plan. Their proposal failed on a party-line vote.

Meanwhile, is more federal help on the way? Congress has yet to decide. For our coverage of that and the budget, read below:

Md. urges more U.S. aid
Revenue projections falling more slowly as economy turns

Even as the fiscal picture in Maryland brightens, Gov. Martin O'Malley called on the federal government Wednesday to provide more help to states that are laboring to keep their budgets balanced.

The governor's plea came as state analysts announced that Maryland's revenue projections have fallen $77 million more for the current fiscal year and the next. While that means O'Malley will have less money for next year's budget, which he will present to the General Assembly in January, the decline was far less precipitous than previous Maryland revenue adjustments during the recession.

State officials said the projections from the Board of Revenue Estimates indicate that an economic turnaround is under way. "Maryland's revenues appear to be stable, and it looks as if we are at least beginning down the road to recovery," said state Budget Secretary T. Eloise Foster.

Nonetheless, O'Malley warned that as the state confronts a projected $2 billion budget shortfall next year, it could "add to the unemployment woes" if the federal government does not provide more stimulus money. His remarks come as Congress debates measures that would extend Medicaid funds to states straining under the rising cost of the health care program for the poor.

"We really need additional help from Washington," O'Malley, a Democrat, told reporters in Annapolis.

For the full story, click here.

Posted by Laura Smitherman at 8:15 PM | | Comments (10)

December 16, 2009

In The Sun Today: Slots and port contracts, and more slots

The Board of Public Works had a busy morning. The panel postponed voting on a slots contract with GTECH Corp. and then approved a 50-year lease of Baltimore's port terminal to Ports America. Comptroller Peter Franchot raised questions about the wisdom of the ports deal and about the legality of approving the slots contract before its funding source -- slots machines -- are operational. We had a stories today on the history of corruption allegations against GTECH, and on a possible investor in a proposed Baltimore slots casino. The casino project will be discussed Thursday at a state slots commission meeting.

Oft-investigated GTECH may get Md. slots computer work
Subsidiary of Italian firm could run central operations

Maryland officials are poised to approve a $21.5 million contract to set up the central operating system for the state's slot machine program to a company that has been accused of questionable practices in other states and countries and at one time was connected to a scandal here.

The Board of Public Works, a three-member panel that includes Gov. Martin O'Malley, plans to consider the contract with GTECH Corp. today. The five-year agreement, which could be extended another five years for $17.4 million, is considered vital to launching the slots program.

The company or its employees have faced allegations of bribery and taking kickbacks in cases that date to the 1990s. A background investigation conducted by Maryland lottery staff revealed that "some of GTECH's past actions remain under scrutiny, but it appears that no conclusions have been reached as to any alleged wrongdoing."

GTECH officials acknowledged various investigations and litigation by government authorities into "possible contract and regulatory issues." The lottery staff and members of the lottery commission, which reviewed the contract, concluded that GTECH shouldn't be disqualified.

For the full story, click here.

For our story on the Baltimore investor, click here.

For Jay Hancock's column on the ports deal, click here.

Posted by Laura Smitherman at 12:00 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Slots

December 15, 2009

In The Sun Today: Bidders on Maryland tracks and their motives vary widely

A diverse group of investors have emerged in the bidding war for some of the top horse-racing venues in Maryland. Potential motives also are varied -- ranging from a desire to save the hard-hit thoroughbred industry, to raze the tracks for other development, or to position for a possible shot at putting slot machines at the tracks in the future. We'll have to wait and see; the auction is next month.

Cordish, De Francis and sister among 6 bidders for tracks

The Cordish Cos., the prolific Baltimore developer that is trying to bring slot machines to Anne Arundel County, emerged Monday as one of six groups that want to buy Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park and the Preakness from bankrupt Magna Entertainment Corp. in an auction next month.

Cordish is one of two groups that have said publicly they are interested in buying the tracks. The winner will play a crucial role in helping to shape the future of racing in Maryland and securing the fate of the Preakness, the second jewel of the Triple Crown horse racing event.

Joseph A. De Francis, the former owner of the racetracks, also put in a bid with his sister, Karin De Francis, through their family company Gainesville Associates, in an attempt to regain involvement in racing in Maryland. The Baltimore Sun reported their interest on Friday.

Neither Cordish nor the De Francis family gave details about their bids. An attorney running the auction procedures for Magna said the other bidders declined to have their bids publicly revealed.

"Each of them will be immediately recognizable to the constituents in Maryland," said Michael A. Wildish, managing director of Miller Buckfire & Co. LLC, the New York firm running the auction for Magna.

For the full story, click here.

Posted by Laura Smitherman at 9:00 AM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Slots

December 9, 2009

O'Malley reaches out to voters in virtual town hall tonight

While the 2010 election is a year away, Gov. Martin O’Malley is already starting to reach out to voters as part of his re-election effort. He plans to host a virtual town hall tonight at 8 p.m. that will be streamed live on his Web site,

With the economy and jobs outlook likely to be at the forefront of the election, O’Malley’s camp says he’ll lay out a plan for “expanding opportunity and creating jobs.” He also will take questions from participants and address other issues, such as schools, roads, the environment and the strapped state budget. “No issue is off the table,” according to his campaign site.

To RSVP for the event, click here where you can also submit a question.

O’Malley’s campaign has begun fund-raising and organizing as the Republicans have yet to coalesce around a candidate. Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich has yet to announce a decision as to whether he would challenge O’Malley to a rematch. Other potential candidates are Larry Hogan, a former Cabinet member in Ehrlich’s administration, and Del. Patrick L. McDonough, a Baltimore County Republican.

Posted by Laura Smitherman at 3:35 PM | | Comments (10)

GOP lawmaker wants his say on state budget cuts

A leading Republican lawmaker accused Gov. Martin O’Malley of a “power grab” and said the legislature should have had a role in several rounds of recent state budget cuts that the Democratic governor took to the Board of Public Works for approval.

Sen. E. J. Pipkin, an Eastern Shore Republican, noted that Gov. William Donald Schaefer called special sessions of the General Assembly during the recession of the early 1990s to address budget gaps. O’Malley should have done the same, he contends.

“When budget cuts of this scope and size are needed, it is customary for the governor to call a special session for legislative approval of the cuts,” Pipkin said in a statement. “No other governor in modern history has made such severe budget cuts without the approval of the General Assembly.”

With this recession taking a bite out of tax revenues, O’Malley has been forced to trim the budget by hundreds of millions of dollars since the General Assembly approved the budget and the fiscal year began in July. The governor has characterized recent budget cuts as fiscally responsible and contends that he tried to minimize state employee layoffs and spare social services that are in greater demand with the economic downturn. O’Malley did call a special session in 2007 to enact budget-balancing package that included $1.3 billion in tax increases.

State law allows the governor to make midyear cuts after the legislature adjourns in April with the approval of the Board of Public Works, which also includes Comptroller Peter Franchot and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp. In general, the governor can’t cut more than 25 percent of the budgeted appropriation.

Pipkin said he would introduce legislation limiting the Board of Public Works to 10 percent in cuts each year. He has been particularly upset with one of O’Malley’s budget cuts that targeted the Upper Shore Community Mental Health Center in Chestertown for closure.

One thing’s for sure: Pipkin and all other lawmakers will get their chance to cut the budget when the General Assembly convenes in January and another shortfall of up to $2 billion must be addressed.

Posted by Laura Smitherman at 8:00 AM | | Comments (5)

December 8, 2009

Andy Harris campaign manager is out

When Republican congressional candidate Andy Harris hired a well-regarded campaign veteran to manage his 2010 run, party officials in Washington touted the move as a propitious sign.

It was evidence, they said, that next time would be different. Harris lost narrowly to Democrat Frank Kratovil in 2008, while Republican nominee John McCain was carrying the conservative First District by 20 points.

This year, on the advice of the National Republican Congressional Committee, Harris moved early to upgrade his campaign operation and field a more professional team. Campaign manager Mike Spellings was a prime exhibit in the Harris upgrade.

Now, Spellings has quietly left the campaign.

Spellings, who has helped run Republican campaigns in Minnesota, Virginia and Texas, says he wanted to pursue "other opportunities," which have yet to fully materialize.

Another Republican operative, speaking anonymously to discuss internal campaign dynamics, blamed a personality clash. Spellings and Harris were just a bad fit, this insider said.

The departure of his campaign manager is likely to put renewed focus on Harris's ability to run a first-class operation.

He has yet to hire a replacement. The Baltimore County state senator says he is "in the final stages" of making a choice and expects to bring on a new manager "in the beginning of the year."

Unless he gets tripped up in next September's primary, Harris could end up being favored to unseat Kratovil, one of the most endangered House Democrats in the country. But Republican state Sen. E. J. Pipkin, who lost a multi-candidate primary against Harris and incumbent Republican Wayne Gilchrest last year, has yet to say whether he'll try again.

The wealthy Pipkin has spurned an entreaty from former Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a Harris backer, to stay out of the race. Harris says if Pipkin had made up his mind to run, "he'd be in the race."

Earlier today, Harris released a list of endorsements from 26 Republican members of the General Assembly who represent portions of the First District. Missing were the names of three Pipkin supporters from last year, Mary Roe Walkup, Michael Smigiel and Richard Sossi.

Some might take that as a clue that prominent Republicans are keeping their options open. Harris says he never asked Walkup, Smigiel and Sossi for endorsements. "I didn't really want to put them on the spot," he says.

Harris, a 52-year-old anesthesiologist from Cockeysville, says he's focused on a general election matchup against Kratovil and the issues of jobs, the economy, government spending and the federal budget deficit.

He's says he's resigned to being outspent but that his fund-raising is improving, with each calendar quarter yielding more than the last.

On Monday evening, Harris reports, Ehrlich helped him collect $20,000 at a Hunt Valley reception prior to the Ravens-Packers football game.

At least one person from Baltimore had something to cheer about when the night was over.

Posted by Paul West at 5:34 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010

In The Sun Today: Still no slots decision in Anne Arundel

In another dramatic twist in the saga to bring slot machines to Anne Arundel, the county council decided late Monday night to postpone a decision on zoning again. They cited the absence of three members, including Tricia Johnson who was in the emergency room suffering from heart problems. The focus now shifts to who will replace Josh Cohen on the council; he has been sworn in as Annapolis mayor. The new member, to be chosen before the next slots meeting, could cast the deciding vote.

Arundel delays slots decision
Md. grants license but County Council vote is delayed

State officials have granted a long-awaited license for a proposed 4,750-machine slots casino at Arundel Mills mall, but Maryland's premier gambling project still needs local approval that was delayed again on Monday.

The Anne Arundel County Council deferred a decision on a critical step for the initiative - zoning approval - just hours after it cleared an important hurdle. After impassioned testimony Monday night, the council chose unanimously to postpone voting on zoning measures because one member was absent with heart palpitations, another recused himself and a third resigned for a new position.

Baltimore-based Cordish Cos. needs both the state license and county authorization for what's expected to be the most lucrative slots site in Maryland.

Arundel officials have debated zoning changes for more than nine months, and have been under increasing pressure from state leaders, business interests and county residents to reach a decision. A crowd of hundreds that packed the Council Chamber groaned when lawmakers settled on a postponement.

For the full story, click here.

Posted by Laura Smitherman at 9:30 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Slots

December 7, 2009

Slot-machine casino in Anne Arundel faces key votes tonight

The fate a proposal to build Maryland's largest slot-machine casino hangs in the balance tonight as a state commission meets to decide on licensing and the Anne Arundel County Council meets to discuss zoning. Both approvals are needed for the project to move forward, and as The Sun reported on Sunday, the outcome is anybody's guess:

Arundel outcome on slots in doubt

A proposal to build the state's marquee slots parlor in Anne Arundel County hinges on a few undecided local lawmakers who are facing a lobbying onslaught from powerful political and business interests as well as their constituents as they prepare to cast a long-awaited vote on Monday.

The County Council is expected to finally decide whether to allow a slots casino envisioned by the Baltimore developer the Cordish Cos. near Arundel Mills mall. Alternatively, the council could allow slots at another location near the Laurel Park horse racing track - or reject both proposals.

Hours before the County Council meets, a state slots commission is expected to vote to grant a gambling license for the Cordish project. Some commissioners have indicated that they hope the panel's decision would pressure the County Council to approve the necessary zoning.

But even after nine months of wrestling with the issue, it is unclear how the local battle will end. Three of the seven council members say they aren't sure how they'll vote, and four "yes" votes are needed to move the billion-dollar project forward.

"What will happen Monday night is anybody's guess," said Council President Cathleen M. Vitale, who declined to say how she plans to vote.

For the full story, click here.

Posted by Laura Smitherman at 3:21 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Slots

O'Malley unveils small business agenda, talks job creation

With jobs likely to be the talk of the 2010 election year, Gov. Martin O’Malley outlined an economic agenda today aimed at helping small businesses, including a $3,000 tax credit for every unemployed worker hired. O’Malley, a Democrat, also plans to appear live on CNBC at 2 p.m. to discuss his proposals.

The governor will unfurl pieces of his legislative agenda for the General Assembly session that begins in January at various events in the coming weeks. He made the small business announcement at a summit hosted by the Greater Baltimore Committee in the city.

The tax credit would be in effect for one year and be capped at $20 million. O’Malley contends it would alleviate pressure on the state’s unemployment-benefits trust fund. Layoffs during this recession have drained more than $550 million from the fund, triggering the need for a tax increase to replenish it. The governor also plans to introduce emergency legislation to address that increase for small businesses. He didn’t reveal details of his rate-relief proposal but pledged to sign it into law before any increas takes effect. Another proposal would streamline the loan approval process for small businesses and expand access to credit.

O’Malley has been repeating a “jobs, jobs, jobs” refrain in recent weeks, vowing to make job creation a top priority of his administration. Last week the governor and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown launched the MBE University, an initiative to support minority- and women-owned businesses.

Here’s some commentary about the small business initiative from the governor’s press release:

“Small and family-owned businesses are the heart and soul of our State and the key to how we’re going to turn the corner from recession to recovery to prosperity,” O’Malley said. “Representing nearly 98 percent of the State’s employers, strengthening our small business community will help us grow and strengthen our middle class, fuel innovation, and create jobs in Maryland.”

“Most economic growth in our state will be generated from within, so this commitment to small business by Governor O’Malley is very welcomed,” said Donald C. Fry, head of the GBC. “Small business is big business in Maryland and we must continue to support our small businesses and develop innovative solutions to help them grow.”

Posted by Laura Smitherman at 1:20 PM | | Comments (4)

December 2, 2009

Steele speaks out against litmus tests

In his first comments on an effort to impose a conservative purity test on Republican candidates in the 2010 election, Republican National Chairman Michael Steele stressed the counter-productive nature of litmus tests.

At the same time, Steele attempted to play down the controversy, which has focused media attention on a topic guaranteed to produce negative publicity: another rift between moderate and conservative Republicans.

"Litmus tests as a rule are not good, and I think everybody in the party appreciates that," Steele said in an interview. "I don't think that that is an appropriate approach for us to take down the road."

Steele was quick to add that "I don't think that that's the intent" of the resolution's authors, even though that is how the effort is widely perceived.

He described the resolution, which surfaced last week, as "just a discussion among the members" of the Republican National Committee "that has now trickled out into the public."

Steele said it was "premature" to predict how he would deal with the measure, which is designed to be voted upon by the RNC at its winter meeting in Hawaii next month.

"Once I see what they're finally proposing, then I will weigh in on it," said Steele. He said that his staff at party headquarters in Washington is working with the resolution's sponsors, who include Jim Bopp, a Republican committeeman from Indiana.

Steele suggested that, ultimately, the measure might not even come to a vote. Last spring, facing a similar challenge from Bopp and other RNC conservatives, he succeeded in watering down a resolution that would have labeled the opposition as "the Democrat Socialist Party."

"This could, in the end, just be a discussion, or it could be a discussion around something that will be presented to the members in January," said Steele, declining to say how he intends to finesse the issue.

"I don't know. I don't know what it is yet," he said.

Bopp's resolution, as leaked to reporters last week, calls on the party to unite against "Obama’s socialist agenda" by requiring Republican candidates to abide by at least eight of 10 conservative policy principles. Those who don't would be denied endorsements and campaign funding from the RNC.

The idea has drawn the approval of some prominent conservatives, including former House Republican leader Dick Armey of Texas, who now heads a grassroots organization that is fighting Obama and the Democrats on health care and spending issues.

At the same time, it has prompted sharp criticism from other Republicans and conservative commentators. A fresh wave of unflattering news stories and analysis has highlighted tensions within a party that, polls show, suffered deep losses in public support in recent years.

Last spring, Steele survived an early, if trivial, test of his ability to lead the RNC when he derailed a proposed resolution, promoted by Bopp, that called on Democrats to relabel themselves as "the Democrat Socialist Party."

Steele, who openly opposed the idea, managed to limit the embarrassment, but not the predictable raft of negative press. When the RNC finally gathered at National Harbor, in Steele's P.G. County, Maryland, stomping grounds, it adopted a limp version of the original proposal, demanding that Democrats "stop pushing our country toward socialism."

Commenting on the latest episode within the 168-member RNC, Steele said in the interview that there are days when he thinks "okay, guys, don't be so independent."

"I like our members to be engaged. But I also want them to be engaged and focused on what their responsibilities are as members, which is, preparing for elections, grooming candidates, raising money, organizing on the ground," he continued.

"And if you're doing that and having this debate, I'm happy. If you're just having this debate and not doing that, then I'm not so happy."

Posted by Paul West at 12:45 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Candidate Watch 2010
Keep reading
Recent entries

Headlines from The Baltimore Sun
About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
Most Recent Comments
Sign up for FREE local news alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local news text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Breaking News newsletter
When a big news event breaks, we'll e-mail you the basics with links to up-to-date details.
Sign up

Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected