baltimoresun.com

December 29, 2010

Operative says robocalls protected by Constitution

Election Night robocalls that drew a federal civil complaint and the attention of Maryland’s state prosecutor in a criminal investigation are Constitutionally protected free speech, the lawyer for political operative Julius Henson says a motion to dismiss the case.

Henson, who worked for Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. at the time, has acknowledged ordering the calls, which told voters to “relax” because Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley had “been successful” and that “the only thing left to do is watch it on TV tonight.”

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, who filed the civil suit in November, alleges that the calls were made with the intent of suppressing and intimidating voters in predominantly African-American areas. Gansler’s civil complaint against Henson, his company Universal Elections and his employee Rhonda Russell seeks millions of dollars in fines.

Continue reading "Operative says robocalls protected by Constitution" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 7:11 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

December 2, 2010

Barth on crossing party lines for Ehrlich

Four years ago, Andy Barth was a Democrat. He ran and lost in the Democratic primary won by Rep. John Sarbanes. This year, he was the voice of the most prominent Republican in Maryland, when he became spokesman for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

So what made Barth cross the aisle for Ehrlich? With the election over, the former TV reporter answered some questions for Larry Carson's Howard County Political Notebook.

A few excerpts are below:

Barth said his work for Ehrlich was based on a personal respect formed over a period of years.

“I never thought of this as a political decision,” he said. “I covered him starting in 1994 when he first ran for Congress. I thought then this was an honest and decent guy I would love to work for, but I filed it away.” Barth was a reporter for more than 35 years, both at Baltimore’s WMAR (Channel 2) and later for Washington station WTTG (Channel 5). He also once sought the presidency of the Columbia Association.

Bottom line, Barth said he preferred Ehrlich to O’Malley, who won the election by double digits.

“I thought of the two people running, Bob Ehrlich was the better choice in terms of character and values. I wish people would get past the partisanship that has people vote on party labels.”

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:37 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010
        

November 18, 2010

Democrats pile on Andy Harris

House Democrats are trying to keep the spotlight on Congressman-elect Andy Harris of Maryland. They're demanding that Republicans in Congress declare whether they plan to use taxpayer-subsidized health insurance for themselves and their families, even as they call for repeal of the new health care law.

Harris, you may recall, got unwanted publicity on Capitol Hill after he asked about health benefits during a private briefing for 250 newly elected House members, staff and family this week. The Baltimore County Republican was reported to have expressed surprise that the federal health care plan, which is offered to all federal employees and members of Congress, would not start covering new congressmen until almost a month after they are sworn in.

Four House Democrats, including Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland, began circulating an appeal to their colleagues in an effort to keep the story alive. So far, 35 congressional Democrats have agreed to sign a letter to Republican leaders about the issue.

The Democrats' letter said that Harris, described only as "a Republican Member-elect who ran on a platform of repealing" the new health care law "complained about a possible delay in the start of his employer-subsidized Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage."

The Democrats added that "[u]nfortunately, Republicans, like [the unnamed Harris], are happy to receive care that is paid for, in part, with taxpayer funds, but do not want to extend a similar benefit to hard-working, under- or uninsured Americans." According to the Democrats, the federal government -- the taxpayers -- will pay $10,503.48 of the premiums for each member of Congress who chooses a family policy under the Blue Cross standard option offered by the FEHB program.

The letter went on to demand that Republican leaders survey their members "to find out which of their members will forgo the employer-subsidized Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage before trying to make it harder for others to obtain affordable coverage."

In football, they call it piling on. In politics, there's no such infraction.

Harris did not respond to a request for comment sent to his spokeswoman.

In addition to Edwards, the Democrats circulating the letter are Reps. Joseph Crowley of New York, Linda T. Sánchez of California and Tim Ryan of Ohio.

Below is the full text of the Democrats' letter:

Continue reading "Democrats pile on Andy Harris" »

Posted by Paul West at 5:08 AM | | Comments (30)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

November 17, 2010

Hoyer keeps second spot in Dem leadership

Maryland Congressman Steny Hoyer retained his spot as the second-ranking member in the House Democratic hierarchy. His new title, effective in January: House Minority Whip.

Hoyer had hoped to move up and many Democrats, in Congress and out, had expected that to happen after Democrats suffered a wipeout in the 2010 midterm election.

Instead, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will remain atop the Democratic leadership ladder as the next Minority Leader. Rep. Heath Shuler, a moderate Democrat from North Carolina, waged a largely symbolic challenge against the Baltimore-born speaker. Because the new, shrunken House Democratic caucus is even more liberal than the group currently in power, he never stood a chance of winning.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina was designated as the party's assistant leader in the House, a new position created by Pelosi to avert a divisive clash between Clyburn, the most senior African American in Congress, and Hoyer, both of whom initially sought the Whip spot.

Earlier this month, Pelosi surprised many of her colleagues by deciding to remain in power, rather than stepping down as some recent Speakers have done after their party lost power. Other House speakers, most notably Sam Rayburn, chose instead to become minority leader and waited to become speaker again after their party regain the majority.

The upshot of today's action: House Democrats have opted to resist change and instead leave their aging top leadership intact (the trio at the top is composed of veteran politicians in their 70s).

They did this despite calls from some Democrats for a shakeup after the stomping their party received at the polls this month. On Election Day, Republicans picked up the largest number of House seats since the 1930s and left Democrats at their lowest ebb in the House in more than six decades.

Critics, including some defeated Democratic congressmen, have said the party's chances of regaining power will be hindered by having the same faces in leadership positions. Their concern is that Democrats will have a more difficult time recruiting candidates for the 2012 election, when Republicans could decide to revive the anti-Pelosi campaign they waged aggressively this fall.

Continue reading "Hoyer keeps second spot in Dem leadership" »

Posted by Paul West at 3:17 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

November 16, 2010

First lesson for Harris: What happens in DC won't stay in DC

It didn't take long for Andy Harris to have his Welcome to the Big Leagues moment in Washington.

On the first day of orientation for new House members, the Congressman-elect from Baltimore County asked a question about health benefits at a closed-door session. Within hours, if not minutes, the exchange got out, and Harris was being slapped around on the Internet.

Politico, which broke the story, portrayed him as an anti-Obamacare Republican greedy to get his hands on government-subsidized health benefits. The paper reported Harris "demanding to know" why he couldn't get coverage the day he was sworn in and reacting "incredulously" when told he'd have to wait a month before the coverage started. (It's the law, apparently).

Harris's spokeswoman Anna Nix was quoted as saying that Harris was merely pointing out the inefficiency of government-run health care. But that's not the way it came out in the piece by Glenn Thrush, which noted that Harris had attacked incumbent Rep. Frank Kratovil over the health care issue, even though the Democrat voted against the legislation.

A spokesman for Kratovil, who lost to Harris earlier this month, was quick to jump on the story.

"Despite railing against the evils of government-subsidized health care for the last two years, Andy Harris chose to introduce himself on the national stage yesterday by demanding earlier access to his taxpayer-subsidized government health care benefits, and expressing shock that he would instead be treated like all other federal employees in having to wait 30 days for his coverage to kick in," said Kevin Lawlor in an email. "It has taken Rep.-Elect Harris less than two weeks to start grabbing national headlines for his arrogance and sense of entitlement."

Posted by Paul West at 11:44 AM | | Comments (84)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

November 12, 2010

O'Malley beats Ehrlich at home in Balto.Co.

Baltimore County supporters of former Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. had their share of bad news on Election Day, when it appeared their man had won his native county by only a few hundred votes, far short of the margin he was presumed to have needed to prevail in his re-match with Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley. Now, with all but one small count of overseas ballots completed, it turns out that Ehrlich -- who won the county in 2006 against O'Malley and in 2002 against Kathleen Kennedy Towsend -- actually lost in the county by 1,305 votes.

The new county total: 141,679 for O'Malley to 140,374 for Ehrlich, is the result of a count of 4,511 provisional ballots on Nov. 10 and 873 more absentee ballots today said Katie A. Brown, director of the Baltimore County Board of Elections.

In the weeks before the election, county political junkies didn't figure Ehrlich would match his 2002 county total, when he won with more than 60 percent, but to win the state race they reckoned he had to do better than in 2006, when he topped O'Malley in Baltimore County by about 2 percentage points. Ehrlich campaign signs were everywhere in the county, and supporters on the conservative southwest and southeast corners were said to be fired up with enthusiasm.

The new totals serve only to strengthen other outcomes, including the tightest race for the District 6 County Council seat, where Cathy A. Bevins of Middle River was leading Ryan Nawrocki of Rosedale by a few hundreds votes. The new total has Bevins ahead by 505 votes, 17, 991 to 17,486.

Brown said all that remains to make the results official is a count of about 100 remaining overseas ballots on Nov. 22.

"We're almost there," said Brown. "Hopefully by the 23rd this will all be done and the fat lady will have sung."

-Arthur Hirsch

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:48 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010
        

November 10, 2010

Van Hollen seeking top Dem spot on Budget

Updated

Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland has formally announced his candidacy for his party's top spot on the House Budget Committee.

The job would put Van Hollen in the middle of the biggest domestic debate of the next two years: how to rein in an expanding federal debt burden. It also would potentially position him to become chairman, if Democrats ever retake the House.

Though he was re-elected in last week's midterm election, the Montgomery County Democrat was one of its victims. He has just completed a four-year stint as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and was looking to move up in the House leadership.

Van Hollen, 51, is considered one of the younger, rising stars of his party in the House. He was given a job two years ago as a special assistant to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, an incentive to get him to take on the challenging task of holding the Democratic majority in 2010.

The Republican takeover and a desire by more senior Democrats to remain in power, including Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Jim Clyburn--all in their 70s--has created a traffic jam that blocked other aspiring Democratic leaders in the House. Van Hollen's bid for the Budget committee position would not preclude him from also getting some sort of minority leadership post, though.

Democrats lost 60 seats in the 2010 election, after picking up seats during his first two years in the House campaign job. Van Hollen contends that his party's losses would have been much worse, if he and Democratic strategists hadn't moved to contain the damage.

Text of his announcement letter after the jump.

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Posted by Paul West at 10:48 AM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

November 8, 2010

Source: Hoyer has the votes in Minority Whip contest

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland formally announced his candidacy Monday for House Minority Whip, the second-ranking position in the House Democratic leadership.

Hoyer is currently the second-ranking Dem, as Majority Leader, a position he'll lose when the Republicans take over in January. The southern Maryland congressman had been seen by some as a possible Minority Leader in the next Congress but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided she wanted the job after her demotion from the top spot in the House.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest ranking African-American in Congress, has also announced his pursuit of the Whip position.

A source close to Hoyer said the Marylander has the votes to win. The election will be conducted by secret ballot, and there's no guarantee that the pledges he has received will actually turn into votes. However, a defeat at this point would be a major surprise.

Clyburn may wind up getting another position in the leadership, as top Democrats attempt to work out a plan that would head off a messy internal fight, probably the last thing they need after getting stomped in last week's midterm elections.

Hoyer's statement announcing his candidacy and a copy of his message to his Democratic colleagues after the jump.

Continue reading "Source: Hoyer has the votes in Minority Whip contest" »

Posted by Paul West at 5:59 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

November 6, 2010

Ehrlich silent on robocalls

Former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. made his most extensive public comments to date about his recent election defeat but had nothing to say about automated phone calls ordered by an operative who said he was working for his campaign.

Democrats have demanded an explanation from the Republican Ehrlich about the Election Day calls, which appeared designed to suppress voter turnout in heavily Democratic Baltimore. Julius Henson, whose companies were paid more than $97,000 by Ehrlich's campaign, acknowledged Friday that he was behind the calls after they were tracked by The Baltimore Sun.

Ehrlich offered a post-mortem on the campaign, and his 24-year career in politics, in a phone call to his wife Kendel's Saturday morning talk show on WBAL radio. During the six-minute conversation, he repeatedly thanked supporters and urged young people to remain involved in politics.

But his tone, and the overall thrust of his comments, was anything but upbeat. At one point, his wife appeared to suggest that Ehrlich regretted his decision to seek a rematch against Gov. Martin O'Malley.

Alluding to their private conversations at home, she said there were no regrets about the campaign "other than possibly the regret of making a decision" to run.

"You knew in your gut it was going to be difficult and uphill," she added.

Continue reading "Ehrlich silent on robocalls" »

Posted by Paul West at 5:13 PM | | Comments (24)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Kendel Ehrlich radio show to continue

Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. doesn't plan to return to his WBAL-AM radio show but his wife Kendel will continue to host the show solo.

But the former governor called in this morning to encourage young people to get into politics and thank supporters. "It is a very worthy career," he said. Ehrlich also said politics can be a "vicious" business.

He did not comment on the robo-call encouraging voters to stay home that went out hours before polls closed. Our Sun colleague Justin Fenton reported Friday that the call was funded by a Democratic operative on the Ehrlich payroll. (Awkwardly, the story was the lead item on WBAL's brief breakaway for news.)

Kendel Ehrlich also didn't mention the flap. But she did say there is a "sting" in the Ehrlich household over the election. "We fought the good fight," she said. "We are proud that we tried." She said the couple thought they could "thread the needle" one more time and win in a state that is majority Democratic.
Posted by Annie Linskey at 9:28 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

November 5, 2010

Pelosi's move stymies Steny

Nancy Pelosi has once again blocked Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer from advancing to the top Democratic spot in the House of Representatives.

The first woman to serve as Speaker of the House announced this afternoon that she wants to be Minority Leader, which is the highest-ranking job she can get once she hands over the gavel to Republican Rep. John Boehner in January.

Given the left-leaning cast of the House Democratic caucus in the next Congress, she almost certainly has the votes she needs already. And that could leave Hoyer in second place, again.

The southern Maryland congressman, who lost to Pelosi in a pivotal leadership battle nine years ago, was regarded as heir apparent--if his longtime rival stepped down.

Instead, he's likely to run for the same spot he's been in since 2006, the second-ranking Democrat in the House. That position, of course, won't be worth nearly as much as his current job as Majority Leader, since Republicans will be in charge.

Hoyer's likely new job title: Minority Whip, the same post Pelosi held when she started her climb up the leadership ladder by besting Hoyer in 2001 (and which Hoyer had soon after, when Pelosi moved up again).

The Marylander might have to wage a fight for the post, however.

Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the Majority Whip, has already announced his candidacy for Minority Whip. It's always possible that another spot in the leadership will be found for Clyburn, averting a messy contest between Hoyer and the highest ranking African-American in Congress.

Hoyer responded to Pelosi's announcement with a statement that he is "exploring" a run for Minority Whip. An aide confirmed that Hoyer is supporting Pelosi for Minority Leader.

Full text of Hoyer's statement after the jump.

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Posted by Paul West at 1:50 PM | | Comments (4)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

November 4, 2010

Bevins' lead narrows in BaltCo District 6

Democrat Cathy Bevins is still leading the race for the 6th District seat on the Baltimore County Council after Republican Ryan Nawrocki picked up only 50 votes from absentee ballots.

Baltimore County Board of Elections officials had been Nawrocki was more than 300 votes behind before the absentee ballots were tallied. Almost 34,000 votes were cast in the race for the open seat left by Joseph Bartenfelder, who ran unsuccessfully for county executive.

Officials are in the process of counting the total number of provisional ballots, which will be tallied next week. Nawrocki could still request a recount, as well, though the final tally will determine whether he'll have to pay for it or not.

Bevins and Nawrocki were not immediately available for comment.

-Raven Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 2:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010
        

Cardin wants robocall investigation

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate Election Day eve robocalls that encouraged Democrats not to vote. Cardin, a Democrat, said in a press release that the calls were "clearly intended to suppress voter turnout."

"Relax," the robocaller said in a message that went out about 90 minutes before polls closed on Tuesday. The automated caller assured that Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley had already won the race. "The only thing left is to watch on TV tonight."

Much has been made about the robocalls, which were followed up by an automated message from Rep. Elijah Cummings saying it was still important to vote.

In her column today, The Sun's Laura Vozzella questions whether they were a dirty trick by Republicans -- or Democrats. One conspiracy theory, she writes, is "that the Dems were behind both calls. That would make Republicans look bad, the theory goes, and increase Democratic turnout in the process."

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler also has said he'll look into the matter. 

In addition to his request to Holder, Cardin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he wants a hearing on deceptive voter practices that occured in the election cycle.

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:52 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Kamenetz looking for staff cuts through attrition

Baltimore County Executive-elect Kevin Kamenetz will ask county staff to start looking for ways to cut county jobs, he announced Thursday as he began rolling out his transition agenda, but he said he does not plan any furloughs or layoffs.

Kamenetz, a Democrat who defeated Republican Kenneth C. Holt on Election Day, began rolling out his agenda Wednesday morning. He said he will ask County Administrative Officer Frederick J. Homan to begin looking for ways to reduce the size of government, Raven Hill reports from Towson. He hopes to make the job cuts through attrition, as workers leave and are not replaced.

He said he is not coming in as a "change agent."

"Government in Baltimore County works well," Kamenetz said. "At the same time, I recognize that we have some budgetary challenges."

Kamenetz also announced that former county executive Theodore G. Venetoulis will advise his transition to the post now held by term-limited Democrat James T. Smith Jr. Venetoulis, a publisher, was executive in the 1970s.

Posted by Andy Rosen at 11:12 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010
        

Andy wants Ag

Congressman-elect Andy Harris wants to fill Rep. Frank Kratovil's shoes in more than one way.

Not only will he be taking the First District congressional seat in the next Congress. He'd also like to be a member of the House Agriculture Committee, where Kratovil currently serves.

The assignment would be a way to stay in touch with an important part of his district's base, the farm economy, chickens and otherwise, on the Eastern Shore.

Harris said in a post-election interview he won't know for a while what other committees he'll be offered. The anesthesiologist wants to play a role on health care issues, including the GOP effort to roll back the Democratic overhaul already going into effect.

Meantime, no post-election beach vacation for Andy, at least not right away. He was back in the operating room this morning.

Posted by Paul West at 10:33 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

November 3, 2010

Maryland election results: GOP +6 in House, maybe -2 in Senate

Maryland's House of Delegates gained six new Republicans, while its Senate may lose two seats long held by the minority party. All 188 seats were on the ballot this year for a General Assembly that has roughly twice as many Democrats as Republicans.

On the House side, four open seats across the state went to Republicans. Republicans also toppled two Democratic delegates, Sue Kullen and Virginia Clagett, who are district-mates of the General Assembly's top leaders. The House now contains 98 Democrats and 43 Republicans -- equaling the minority party's modern-era high achieved under then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. in 2003.

The all-but-complete Election Day returns show the Democratic Party, which already enjoyed a thumping majority in the Maryland Senate, appears to have added two Senate seats this year, Mike Dresser reports -- leaving Republican  with a mere 12 seats in the 47-member Senate.

The majority party did that by apparently protecting all of its incumbents -- assuming Anne Arundel's John Astle and Southern Maryland's Roy Dyson hold on to narrow but not paper-thin leads -- and seizing two Republican-held seats.

The upset of the night was Democrat Ronald Young's apparent defeat of Frederick County GOP Sen. Alex Mooney, an outspoken social conservative whose district has been changing shades from red to purple. In Young, a former Frederick mayor, the Democrats found a strong match for the district and backed him with heavy spending at the direction of  Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller.  The margin in that race is 665 votes, too narrow to count Mooney out but a difficult number to overcome.

Democrat Jim Mathias is also  leading Repiblican  Michael James for the Eastern Shore open seat vacated by GOP Sen. J. Lowell Stoltzfus. Mathias, an incumbent delegate and popular former mayor of Ocean City, was perhaps the only Democrat with a shot at this district -- and he made the most of it. The margin in this race is 176 votes, so the GOP has a shot of retaining the seat if absentee and provisional ballots break their way. The state Board of Elections is reporting one precinct out, but it is in Mathias' home county of Worcester.

Perhaps the only consolation for the Republicans is that it would be hard  to do much  worse in the Senate. The party is down to its rock-solid base, and really  has nowhere to go but up. This year, Democratic incumbents did their party the favor of hanging on -- giving them no open seats except  in safe districts. It is unlikely they can go through another cycle with no retirements in swing districts.

Considering how well Republicans did nationally, said House Speaker Michael E. Busch, Maryland Democrats held their own.

Continue reading "Maryland election results: GOP +6 in House, maybe -2 in Senate " »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:01 PM | | Comments (15)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Mikulski leading statewide vote-getter

Re-elected Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski was Maryland's top vote-getter in Tuesday's midterm election, outpolling Gov. Martin O'Malley and other statewide candidates in contested races.

However, her victory margin dipped from past elections, according to unofficial, nearly complete returns. In capturing her fifth six-year term, she received about 62 percent of the vote, down about seven points from the average of her three previous re-election races and the lowest since her initial election to the Senate in 1986.

Except for freshman Rep. Frank Kratovil, who was unseated by Republican challenger Andy Harris, other incumbent Democrats also tallied re-election percentages of more than 60 percent. All saw slippage in their winning margins, a reflection of voter unhappiness with Democratic governance in Washington.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, the state's lone Republican in Washington until Harris is sworn in next January, bucked the downward trend. The Frederick congressman pulled 62 percent of the vote, up from 58 and 59 percent in the last two elections, when Democrats were ascendant.

Posted by Paul West at 11:33 AM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Morning after sign wave

Rep. Elijah Cummings joins Gov. Martin O'Malley at a thank-you sign waving this morning at North and Druid Hill avenues in Baltimore. Both Democrats were re-elected last night.

 

 

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 10:12 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

O'Malley's victory by the numbers

With most precincts reporting, there's some pretty interesting trends in the 2010 gubernatorial election results.

It it tempting to look at Gov. Martin O'Malley's double digit lead over challenger former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich as a sweeping mandate for the incumbent's policies. But figures from the Board of Elections show the voters more likely soured on Ehrlich.

O'Malley picked up 25,000 more votes this year than four years ago, not bad in a year where voters were supposed to be angry at Democrats and incumbents. But Ehrlich's numbers are starker: He appears to have turned off 92,000 who supported him in 2006 (the number could change slightly as more precincts report). Turnout was down with 67,000 fewer people casting ballots.

Looking quickly at county by county results it's clear where O'Malley picked up his support: He earned 27,000 more votes in Prince George's County than last time. Ehrlich, on the other hand, lost big in the DC suburbs. He had 30,000 fewer votes in Montgomery County this year and and 18,000 fewer votes in Prince Georges.

Interestingly both men had fewer votes in Baltimore County this year compared with 2006. Ehrlich came in with 11,000 fewer; O'Malley with 3,500 fewer votes there.




Posted by Annie Linskey at 9:01 AM | | Comments (31)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

November 2, 2010

Steele: Not saying I'm running...yet

Republican National Chairman Michael Steele, who needed a big GOP midterm election victory to be a viable candidate for re-election to his party post, says he hasn't decided to seek another term in the job.

"Nope. Haven't made up my mind," the former Maryland lieutenant governor told CNN.

It wouldn't have been politick for Steele to have stolen the glory on his party's biggest night in six years. But both supporters and detractors consider another Steele campaign a foregone conclusion.

He'd like to preside over the RNC Convention in Tampa next year, though he may well face a challenge to keep his post. The election will take place at the RNC's winter meeting.

Steele dismissed internal criticism of RNC fundraising on his watch as "silly talk." He said the national party had put $175 million into campaigns around the country over the last two years.

He also touted his 50-state outreach to state parties, a key part of his aggressive -- if unannounced-- re-election effort, which included a recent coast-to-cost bus tour.

Posted by Paul West at 10:22 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

More scenes from Ehrlich election party

Here's more from Sun reporter Don Markus, staked out with Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.

At a little past 10 p.m., Ehrlich's running mate, Mary Kane, took the stage to enthusiastic applause to thank their supporters.

"This is a great night," she said. "This campaign has been a great journey. You have been our backbone."

Kane told the crowd - not the 4000 to 5000 they hoped for, but respectable given the polls' predictions - "Get comfortable, this is going to be a quite a night."

Kane said "we only have 11 precincts reports and we're closing the gap fast."


The crowd applauded enthusiastically and as Kane left the stage, the band went into a chorus of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" changing the words to "Bobby be good" and how "Bobby was going to be the next governor of Mary....land"

Posted by Annie Linskey at 10:15 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

O'Malley election party

The room is filling up with volunteers and uber-supporters at Gov. Martin O'Malley-Sen. Barbara Mikulski joint election night party in Baltimore.

O'Malley aides are eagerly reading off the early voting totals which give the governor a double digit lead -- though there's no telling if that will hold as the night continues.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is on the stage saying "Baltimore knows how to turn out the vote."

Rawlings-Blake says voters overcame the "dirty slimely trickery" and supported "someone we could trust."

U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings takes the stage and says "our greatest threat to security is  the failure to educate every person."

Posted by Annie Linskey at 9:05 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Scenes from Ehrlich's party

Sun reporter Don Markus is at the Ehrlich party in Timonium and filed this dispatch a few hours ago (we should have posted earlier, we apologize):

Despite reports filtering into the Exhibition Hall at the Timonium Fairgrounds that Ehrlich was on the verge of defeat, the atmosphere at what was billed as a "Strong Leadership" victory party was surprisingly festive. The first song belted out by a band called "Mood Swing" was Frank Sinatra's "The Best Is Yet To Come."

Unfortunately for Ehrlich's supporters, it wasn't.

Jack Diamond, a 26-year-old medical student from Pikesville who came with his 2-year old son, Jacob, said that he was shocked at the recent polls that showed Erlich behind by as much as 14 percentage points.

"When you see all the signs in Baltimore County and Harford County for Bob Ehrlich, and then you see the polls, I don't know how it dovetails," said Diamond, an Ehrlich supporter since moving to Baltimore from Israel to attend Towson University eight years ago.

"I guess tonight is really the judgment day, whether we're going to find out that what we see on the street is going to pull Ehrlich through."

Diamond said that if O'Malley was reelected, he believed it had more to do with the "negative advertising" used by O'Malley than on the campaign waged by Ehrlich.

John Gowland, who worked in Ehrlich's first administration as the general manager of the MTA, agreed, adding that even in a year when a wave of anti-Obama sentiment helped defeat several prominent Democrats, ".it's a very tough state to get elected as a Republican."

Sandy Brock of Annapolis, the wife of former State Senator Bill Brock, said that he came to Timonium Tuesday night with "great hope" that the polls were wrong.

Brock said she realized it was going to be an uphill battle.

"Maryland is so different," she said. "There's no other state in the country with a 35 percent African American population who are educated, smart and involved like they are here in Maryland" and that because many work in government positions would likely vote for O'Malley.

Posted by Annie Linskey at 9:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland Election 2010: City voter told that someone cast early ballot in his name

When James Moore went to vote at 5:30 p.m. today, the 32-year-old Pigtown resident says he got disturbing news from polling officials at George Washington Elementary School.

"They told me someone had voted early in my name -- and it wasn’t me,” he said.

Moore, a Johns Hopkins University project manager at the Johns Hopkins University, wanted polling officials to override that earlier vote, whoever may have cast it during the early voting period that ended Thursday. But he was told that wasn’t possible. Instead, he was given a provisional ballot.

When Moore said that was unacceptable, he was given the phone number for Baltimore City’s Board of Elections and eventually reached election director Armstead B.C. Jones Sr.

Continue reading "Maryland Election 2010: City voter told that someone cast early ballot in his name" »

Posted by David Nitkin at 7:22 PM | | Comments (16)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland Election 2010: Republicans hope for General Assembly gains

A Maryland Election 2010 dispatch from the Baltimore Sun's Michael Dresser

With a national “wave” election projected and with their national party expecting big gains in Congress, Maryland Republicans are hoping to make substantial strides toward gaining leverage in the Maryland General Assembly, a traditional bastion of Democratic strength.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re going to pick up seats in both houses,” said Ryan Mahoney, political director for the Maryland Republican Party. He said a good night would bring a pickup of seven to 15 House seats in the 141-seat chamber.

But Alexandra Hughes, spokeswoman for House Speaker Michael E. Busch, expressed confidence that Democrats will hold their losses — if any — to a minimum.

“If the stars align for them, maybe we lose 6-7 seats,” she said. More likely, Hughes said, would be a change of “plus or minus 3” in a House that now has 104 Democrats and 37 Republicans.

The General Assembly has long been a font of disappointment for Maryland’s outnumbered Republicans. Not since 1994 has the party made appreciable gains in either the Senate or the House, and even then they didn’t come close to threatening Democratic dominance.

With actual control of either chamber far out of reach, the legislative Holy Grail for the GOP has been to reach the magic number of Senate seats — 19 out of 47 — where they could sustain a filibuster without attracting a single Democratic ally. As it stands, with a 33-14 Democratic advantage, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller invariably twists enough Democratic arms to invoke cloture.

This year, the GOP is hoping a national tide can bring them the five take-aways they need to reach that goal.

“If we had five additional seats in the state Senate, we would move from being a party and a caucus the Dems can just ignore . . . to where we have some clout,” Mahoney said.
But history is not encouraging.

Even in 2002, a good Republican year nationally and one in which they elected their first governor since 1966, the GOP made modest progress in the House to reach 43 seats — then gave them back in 2006. This year, with former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. lagging in the most
recent polls, it is unclear whether national trends will reach Maryland’s down-ballot races.

Continue reading "Maryland Election 2010: Republicans hope for General Assembly gains" »

Posted by David Nitkin at 6:35 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Social media and the 2010 Maryland election

Eyes are on Twitter, Facebook and other websites tonight as the plugged-in track the election. We're taking a look at three interactive widgets that Mashable, an online guide to social media, highlighted earlier in the day, and seeing how they apply to Maryland.The New York Times has a tool to highlight the number of posts related to candidates' Twitter accounts. The middle circle "grows and shrinks based on the total activity happening" around candidates' accounts, including those of O'Malley and Ehrlich, @GovernorOMalley and @Ehrlich4MD respectively. The smaller circles represent tweets to each candidate, from each candidate and "retweets" (reposts of another user's tweet) of candidates' messages.


nytcircles.jpg

Twitter Sentiment is helping social media aficionados discover how people are feeling about candidates and the parties in general. Type in any term you'd like to see the climate. As of 5 p.m., about a quarter of tweeters were expressing negativity about the election using our #mdvote hashtag (track it by clicking here).


mdvote.jpg


Continue reading "Social media and the 2010 Maryland election" »

Posted by Carla Correa at 5:59 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland election 2010: Some issues with BaltCo voting machines emerge

Two voting machines at a Parkville precinct were shut down for less than an hour on Election Day morning when three voters trying to choose Republican Baltimore County executive candidate Kenneth C. Holt found the machine was not recording their votes correctly, Arthur Hirsch reports.

UPDATE 6:00 P.M.: The state Republican party send out a news release this afternoon which says about 30 voters have reported similar concerns in more than a dozen counties.

The glitch on the two machines at Pine Grove Middle School was one of a few isolated cases of touch-screen machines not giving voters the choice they wanted, said Katie Brown, director of the county Board of Elections. Brown said she knew of the incident at Pine Grove and two other polling places.

She said the trouble may have been caused by an error in setting up the touch–sensitive screen to record the correct choice. She said it also could be “a matter of the angle of the screen.”

She said election officials are urging voters to review their votes after they have finished making their choices and before they hit the button to cast their ballot.

David Glassman and Joy Rickels, chief judges at Pine Grove, said one voter complained that their choice for Holt instead registered as a “write-in,” and two others said their Holt choice registered as votes for his Democratic opponent, Councilman Kevin Kamenetz. The judges said the problems were corrected and no votes were lost in those three instances.

The machines were shut down for less than an hour at about 11 a.m., Rickels said, then put back into service.

It was not clear if other voters may have made similar errors and not noticed it.

Holt said he’d heard about the problems, and he's been pleased with the Board of Elections’ response.

“They responded quickly and well,” said Holt. “There have not been any widespread concerns.”

He said his own campaign manager, Norman Sines, noticed the trouble during early voting, when twice he tried to vote for Holt and twice the machine registered the choice for Kamenetz. On the third try, the machine recorded the correct vote.

Miriam Barr had to watch her vote carefully, Liz Kay reports, after she had trouble voting at Timonium Elementary Tuesday morning.

At about 10 a.m., she was standing at a machine near the school stage and had successfully chosen her candidate for governor and lieutenant governor. But when Barr, 83, tried to select a senator, Barbara Mikulski’s name popped up.

Continue reading "Maryland election 2010: Some issues with BaltCo voting machines emerge" »

Posted by Andy Rosen at 5:01 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland Election 2010: Turnout reports

The Board of Elections projects Election Day turnout to be about 48 percent based on reports from a few key polling locations.

Their estimate does not include absentee and early voting -- when those vote are added the turnout looks as though it will match other recent governor elections, said Ross K. Goldstein the Deputy Administrator at the state's board of elections.

But that's not the message Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's team is putting out. Campaign manager Tom Russell issued an email about 30 minutes ago telling supporters that he has reports that turnout is "lighter than expected ... in a few key counties."

"That's exactly what our opponent needs to close the gap," Russell wrote, hoping to prompt supporters to join the after-work rush at the polls.

Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich seemed to have a better sense of the landscape -- his email to supporters said that "the enthusiasm at the polls has been wonderful to see" and encouraged his people to "go vote."
Posted by Annie Linskey at 4:36 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland election 2010: Kratovil stumping for votes

Freshman Rep. Frank Kratovil started the day as the most endangered congressional incumbent in Maryland. He'll end it either as a re-elected representative or a lame duck.

Gus Sentementes
filed this report from Kratovil's day:

Frank Kratovil arrived at the Fallston Diner eager to shake hands and have a cheeseburger. The 1st District Democratic incumbent had been up since 6 a.m., and visiting poll locations all morning.

"Everybody agrees it's going to be close," Kratovil said.

Accompanying him were his four well-behaved young sons, and his 3-month old daughter held by his wife. He entered the diner about 12:30 p.m. and shook hands with several seated patrons, and then sat down with his family, press secretary and driver at tables in a corner. Every few minutes, he popped up from his seat to greet new diners as they entered.

Tim Alston, 37, was surprised to see Kratovil, but the Democratic voter was happy to shake his hand. Alston, a maintenance worker, was eating at the diner counter, and declared to a reporter that he had already voted, including for Kratovil. "If those Republicans get back in, we're in trouble," Alston said.

Kratovil appeared relaxed and smiled frequently. He said that he had done his best in the run-up to the election. "I'm not sure what else I could have done to demonstrate to voters" his qualifications, he said.

"I tend to be more relaxed on election day than any other day," Kratovil said.

For lunch, Kratovil ordered a cheeseburger deluxe, cooked medium, with mayonnaise and fries, and a Diet Coke.

He had spent the morning visiting poll locations in Annapolis and Phoenix. His afternoon schedule includes stops in Phoenix, Abingdon and Pasadena.

Posted by Paul West at 2:54 PM | | Comments (3)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland election 2010: Dundalk Dems for Ehrlich

Ken Hadfield was turning a long night into a longer Election Day, standing outside Dundalk Middle School handing out leaflets for former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. this afternoon and admiring his work from 12 hours before.

“Did you see all the signs?” said Hadfield, who had been part of a group of volunteers who went from about 10 p.m. through the night and into the morning planting hundreds of signs here and at polling places nearby. “You think we have a few Ehrlich signs?”

He counted 175 here, another 75 at Logan Elementary, another 50 at Dundalk Church of the Brethren. He’s a Democrat all the way, he said, and believes in what he called “Democratic values,” which he said are “liberal. … I people in helping people.”

And in that spirit, he said he’s heading a group of Democrats for the Republican former governor, Ehrlich, over the Democratic incumbent, Martin O’Malley.

Ehrlich is “the better man for the job, in this time, in this area,” said Hadfield, whose 25-year-old son, Jordan, mounted a strong primary challenge against longtime state Sen. Norman Stone in District 6.

Three main reasons for his allegiance in this one race, Hadfield said: jobs, jobs and jobs.
“We’ve lost 142,000 jobs” in the Dundalk area over the last 40 years, he said, a fact he doesn’t necessarily blame on every office holder. They just don’t seem to have done enough to bring in new jobs, he said.

“I teach all 12th graders” in Dundalk High School, said Hadfield, who teaches technology. “They can’t wait to get out of Dundalk.”

In his view, “O’Malley has done nothing for this district,” and Ehrlich has a plan to establish business incubators in Dundalk, Essex, Edgemere and Rosedale to help build new companies, and to reform the tax code to give businesses a break.

He was spending the day passing out literature to voters here and nearby precincts, and said he was finding a most receptive audience in an area where Ehrlich – who grew up on the other side of Baltimore County in Arbutus – has always been an unusually popular Republican.

“Ehrlich all the way,” said Hadfield, referring to the response from voters he’s talked with.

Arthur Hirsch

Posted by Andy Rosen at 1:57 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland election 2010: O'Malley 'proud of the campaign we've run'

Swinging by a poll in Columbia about an hour ago, Gov. Martin O'Malley posed for photos with Howard County Executive Ken Ulman volunteers and thanked election judges before hitting the trail again. The Democratic incumbent's hectic final campaign day has included stops at a poll in Springdale and at Leisure World senior center in Silver Spring. He heads now to Baltimore.

O'Malley said he is "proud of the campaign we've run," and said he believes he has convinced voters to reelect him today. He said his Republican challenger, former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., asked the wrong question in campaign ads that invoked former President Ronald Reagan's, "Are you better off today than you were four years ago?"

"We're all worse off," O'Malley said, noting the national recession. "The questions is, is Maryland moving forward" ahead of other states. He said he believes the answer is yes.

Continue reading "Maryland election 2010: O'Malley 'proud of the campaign we've run'" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 1:22 PM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland election 2010: Write-in campaign in BaltCo

Julian Jones recalled an encounter with an enthusiastic supporter for his write-in campaign as he greeted voters at Milford Mill Academy this morning. Unfortunately for Jones, who is running for County Council, the voter had written him in as a candidate for delegate.

"Jones, I wrote you in," the man told him,"because I can't stand that damn [Del. Emmett] Burns."

"That's the challenge of running a write-in campaign. I anticipate a certain percentage of that happening," Jones said, "but I'm encouraged that we'll make it up."

Jones is campaigning for Ken Oliver's 4th District seat. Oliver narrowly defeated him in the the September primary.

Meanwhile, Oliver was making a quick stop at his Liberty Road campaign headquarters before going back to the polls. He doesn't have a Republican opponent.

It was an unusual Election Day for the two-term councilman. He's never experienced a write-in campaign, not even as a volunteer on other campaigns.

"I just find it interesting that people really want to write in," Oliver said. "To me, the public has spoken when they vote in the primary. That's just me. But again, that's their right to write in."

Raven Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 12:23 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland Election 2010: Ehrlich: 'A historic day'

Republican former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. arrived at the Rolling Knolls Elementary School in a two SUV convoy to vote this morning.

"This is a historic day," Ehrlich told reporters, saying voters have the "opportunity to correct what is wrong with Maryland." He said that he's more calm this Election Day compared with the previous two and added that he's enjoyed the race. "I love the competition," he said. "I love the debates."

Ehrlich and his wife Kendel checked in with poll workers and then waited in a line that snaked around the school's gym.

Kendel Ehrlich said she has "no regrets" about her husband's decision to run and was pleased with the campaign on their end. "He ran the campaign that he wanted to run. This was the year to do it."

In contrast, she felt that Gov. Martin O'Malley took the low road by coming out with an early attack ad. "Hopefully nasty doesn't win," she said.

In recent days her husband has said she played a key role in convincing him to take on O'Malley. "I should be credited with the encouragement," she said. "We are fortunate that life is good no matter what."
Posted by Annie Linskey at 11:38 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

GOP's Brian Murphy to watch from home

Onetime Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Brian Murphy will watch the election results come in from the comfort of his couch in Montgomery County, his spokeswoman said. Murphy was on our what-to-watch list (No. 9) this morning. His home-bound plans make this a bit more challenging.

The tea party favorite captured about 24 percent of votes in the September primary against Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. Since then, the former governor has embraced him as "the future of the Republican party."

But Murphy won't be joining Ehrlich at the state fairgrounds in Timonium tonight. The investor with a Smith Island bakery has a wife and lots of young children and prefers to stay home with them tonight, said his spokeswoman Karla Graham. Murphy called Ehrlich this morning, telling him to "knock 'em dead," Graham said.  

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 11:13 AM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Maryland election 2010: Brochin's car not cooperating

Democratic state Sen. James Brochin of Baltimore County has been running hard to hold onto his seat for a third term against tough competition this year from conservative Republican Kevin Carney, a small businessman and president of the Maryland Community Builders Foundation. At Riderwood Elementary School this morning, though, his car had apparently given up the fight.

“It won’t start, it just won’t turn over,” said Brochin of his bronze-colored, 2004 Chrysler Sebring, which got him to the school all right shortly before 7 a.m., but when he went to head off to his next stop a few miles away in Ruxton, turning the key in the ignition produced nothing more than a click.

He hitched a ride with a volunteer for the campaign of House of Delegates candidate Oz Bengur, but said he’d be back to see to his ailing vehicle and call a mechanic. Perhaps the trouble was a fuse, he thought aloud.

But could it also be an ominous Election Day omen?

“I don’t know,” said Brochin, climbing into a black Volvo for the next stop. “I’ll tell you after 8 o’clock.”

arthur.hirsch@baltsun.com

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:29 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010
        

Holt pitches for black vote in Randallstown

Republican Ken Holt worked the crowd at Randallstown High School on Tuesday, hoping to pick up more votes than conventional political wisdom would suggest he could in the predominantly African American community.

Holt, who is running against Democrat Kevin Kamenetz for Baltimore County Executive, said he believed that voters would be intrigued by his proposal to build a Negro League-themed museum and heritage park along the struggling Liberty Road corridor.

"I felt that if I were here and had the opportunity to articulate the vision, then I could get people excited about my candidacy," he said.

He was then interrupted by a woman who said she voted for him. Holt shook her hand and thanked her for the support.

Another voter cut to the chase: What kind of influence would he have on the schools?

Holt assured the woman that he would have an "active role in how the schools operate." He shared his ideas about providing mentors for parents and students, and improving career training in local schools. For example, he'd like for students to get accounting, marketing and retail experience that they could use close to home at the museum and park.

He gave her his business card.

"I hope that you keep in touch with me so we can work together on these issues," Holt said.

She said that she would.

-Raven Hill

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:10 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: In The Counties, Maryland election 2010
        

Kamenetz starts in Owings Mills, swings east

One more handshake, one more quick pitch for one more vote with less than 12 hours to go before Baltimore County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz's years-long effort to win the county executive seat would be decided in the final count.

"I'm Kevin Kamenetz, I'm running for county executive. I'm going to do a good job for you," said the Democratic nominee, greeting another voter outside Riderwood Elementary School this morning, his second stop on a planned swing from his home turf on the northwest side to Towson and perhaps farther east.

"I get to see the sunrise and the sunset today," said Kamenetz, 52, a lawyer who lives in Owings Mills and has served on the council for 16 years. After a his primary campaign that featured a series of attack ads against his chief rival, fellow councilman, Joseph Bartenfelder, Kamenetz acknowledged that the tone had shifted against Republican Kenneth C. Holt, 59, a former state delegate from Kingsville.

“Our message has been very positive,” said Kamenetz. “I haven’t really let up” the pace of campaigning, he said, although he has not been holding the regular news conferences that he did during the primary season.

Turnout seemed light at Riderwood, but he said it was steady in his previous stop at Har Sinai Congregation near his home. He said he’d been encouraged by very strong early voting at Randallstown Community Center in the neighboring District 4, which Kamenetz used to represent on the council. The county Board of Elections said early voting there was the highest in the county. Local political enthusiasts have said that if voters turn out in their customary big numbers in Kamenetz’s stronghold on the northwest, it will be very difficult for the lesser-known Holt to make up the ground elsewhere.

Asked about the feeling of arriving finally at Election Day after years of planning, fundraising and campaigning, Kamenetz smiled and paraphrased “The Candidate,” a 1972 movie starring Robert Redford.

“The final line was ‘What do we do tomorrow?’ “ said Kamenetz. “I think the answer for me is, win or lose, I sleep. Then we start working again.”

-Arthur Hisch

Posted by Andy Rosen at 10:01 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        

Election Day begins

Campaigning draws to a close today as the focus of the election shifts from what candidates are doing to what voters are doing. By the end of the day, we hope, Marylanders will have selected a governor, senator, congressional delegation and state legislature. Citizens also are choosing local leaders, deciding whether to call a constitutional convention and, in Anne Arundel County, giving the thumbs-up or down to a slots parlor at a mall.

Find your polling place here

The Sun's politics team has sketched out nine things to watch as the day unfolds. Polls opened at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Soon after, we're expecting to get our first big clue as to how the night will shape up: the results of almost 220,000 early votes -- 6.3 percent of the electorate -- are to be released. Today's results from 23 counties and Baltimore City will roll in late.

Check this blog, The Sun's homepage and our Twitter accounts (#mdvote) for updates throughout the day. While you're at it, become a fan of our new politics page on Facebook.

Continue reading "Election Day begins" »

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 8:20 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Maryland election 2010
        
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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.
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