Maryland Governor's Election: The closing arguments

Welcome to The Rally. Every weekday morning from now until election day (that's tomorrow), TBD will tell you what you need to know about the Maryland governor’s race. The showdown between incumbent Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and Republican former governor Bob Ehrlich is in the homestretch, and TBD is prepared to dish about the race’s debates, polls, issues, endorsements and controversies from now until Nov. 2.

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THE CLOSING ARGUMENTS

Toward the end of last week, both campaigns released television ads making their closing arguments.

O'Malley's first ad touts the endorsement of the Washington Post and makes a positive case for the governor, largely using the same achievements in education and public safety he's discussed throughout the campaign.

The second ad has a slight dig at Ehrlich at the beginning, but is largely positive. It uses a frame of choices, acknowledging that O'Malley has done things voters might not like (i.e. increase the sales tax) during his tenure.

Both ads also use footage for earlier O'Malley commercials, lending them an additional "wrapping it up" feel.

O'Malley's commercials depicting Ehrlich as a lobbyist have successfully driven up the Republican's negatives. Ehrlich starts by trying to dispel those negative perceptions — the quotes are from a Barry Rascovar column in the Gazette — and then shifts to a mostly positive argument about cutting the sales tax and empowering small businesses.

The closing arguments are basically what the two campaigns needed in the final days of the race. O'Malley played it safe, protecting his hefty lead. Ehrlich knows he can't make substantial gains until his own negatives drop, so his commercial focuses on disputing O'Malley's earlier attacks.

SUN SHINES ON O'MALLEY

The state's largest paper endorses the incumbent, while conceding Ehrlich has better stances on some issues:

[O]n the whole, Mr. O'Malley's ideas are better suited to the challenges Maryland faces now, whereas Mr. Ehrlich at times has failed to recognize the ways in which the world has changed since he left office four years ago.

Coupled with the endorsement of the Post, O'Malley has the backing of the state's dominant media outlets.

Ehrlich has the backing of most of the region's smaller and community papers, including The Daily Times in Salisbury, which also endorsed this weekend. The Republican also has the support of Washington's two conservative dailies after the Washington Times endorsed him Sunday. Its editorial board really, really doesn't like speed cameras.

SO MUCH FOR CROSS-OVER APPEAL

Ehrlich held a "Democrats for Ehrlich" event on Saturday. Based on John Wagner's account in the Post, it drew fewer than 100 people. The big names?

  • Former governor Marvin Mandel, who is a registered lobbyist.
  • Political consultant Julius Henson, who called Ehrlich a 'Nazi' eight years ago but is working for the Republican this time around.
  • Former delegate George Owings, who worked in the Ehrlich administration and briefly challenged O'Malley in the primary.

Not exactly a lineup of shining stars.

QUICK HITS

Sun profile of O'Malley shows a well-disciplined campaign overcoming potential obstacles. (Sun)

Ehrlich profile shows him using anger to fire up conservative base, while his outreach to Democratic groups is frustrated. (Sun)

The center of campaign funds in Maryland elections has shifted from Baltimore to Potomac. (Post)

Elections officials in Anne Arundel County — which Ehrlich should win — think turnout could reach 80 percent. (The Capital)

Two takes on why Ehrlich isn't going to be part of the Republican wave. (Washington Examiner, Capital News Service)

If their husbands weren't bitter rivals, Kendel Ehrlich and Katie O'Malley could totally be BFFs. Instead, they get pretty catty in this joint profile. (Post)

An examination of campaign events show both candidates are spending a lot of time with their respective bases. (Post)

TODAY'S SCHEDULE

On the last day before the election, O'Malley is a lot busier than Ehrlich. His schedule has 16 listed events to the Republican's four.

O'Malley starts the day at a shift change at Johns Hopkins at 6:30 a.m., then he has a sign wave with supporters in Baltimore. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown is at the Tastee Diner in Bethesda.

O'Malley breakfasts at Pete's Grille in Baltimore before making six more stops in the city, ending with a sign wave with former State Sen. Larry Young (D), who hosted a gubernatorial debate on his radio show last month.

Brown has lunch with students at Prince George's Community College at noon, is at Prince George's Hospital at 3:30 and the Addison Road Metro Station at 5 p.m.

O'Malley and Brown finally unite at 8 p.m. for a rally at Wise High School in Upper Marlboro.

Ehrlich's much-thinner schedule starts with sign-waving at his campaign headquarters in Annapolis at 8 a.m. He heads to Rockville for a 'Moms For Ehrlich' event at Krispy Kreme at 11 a.m., then tours small businesses in Towson at 2:30 p.m. The day ends with a rally in Halethorpe at 6 p.m. Running mate Mary Kane will be at his side throughout the day.

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