Murphy, O'Malley hit Ehrlich on early voting
* Updated below *
Maryland's gubernatorial candidates want you to vote early. But two of them, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley and Republican underdog challenger Brian Murphy also want to remind you that Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Republican former governor and current contender, once vetoed early voting.
"Ehrlich's change of heart on early voting [is] nothing more than an opportunistic about-face by a career politician," Murphy said in a release late Tuesday, some of his strongest criticism to date of his primary challenger.
O'Malley's campaign spokesman said in a message to supporters Tuesday that early voting was a "no-brainer for public officials on both sides of the aisle, but if Bob Ehrlich had had his way early voting would never have been possible."
Anticipating such criticism, Ehrlich composed a YouTube message in which he attempts to reconcile his opposition to early voting with his desire for you to vote early for him.
In the video, released Friday, Ehrlich says he has been critical of early voting because it is a "solution in search of a problem." Still, he says his campaign hopes to take "full advantage" of what is now state law.
Murphy, in his release last night, says Ehrlich's push on early voting is meant to counteract his challenger's momentum. A little-known Montgomery County investor, Murphy attracted national attention when former Alaska governor and Tea Party fixture Sarah Palin endorsed him.
On early voting, Murphy said of Ehrlich, "Before he was opposed to it, but now that our campaign is gaining ground, he supports it."
Here's a timeline on early voting's legislative history, compiled by colleague Annie Linskey:
Winter 2005 -- General Assembly passed early voting law
May 2005 -- Ehrlich vetoes early voting
Winter 2006 -- Maryland General Assembly overrides Ehrlich's veto
Spring 2006 -- Board of Elections prepare for early voting in 2006 elections
August 2006 -- Maryland Court of Appeals rules early voting unconstitutional, noting that the voting schedule is clearly laid out in the state's constitution. Changing it requires voter approval.
Winter 2007 -- General Assembly approves constitutional referendum on early voting
November 2008 -- Voters overwhelmingly approve early voting
Early voting begins Friday, and primary election day is Sept. 14. Check out this state web site for details on early voting locations.
Update: The Maryland Democratic Party and Maryland Republican Party are to hold a joint press conference tomorrow morning to promote early voting.
Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Turnbull and Republican Party Chairwoman Audrey Scott both will give remarks in just outside the State House in Annapolis. The parties are billing it as an educational event.