ROCKVILLE, MD - APRIL 07: Republican Bob Ehrlich announces his candidacy for the governorship of Maryland during a rally April 7, 2010 in Rockville, Maryland. Ehrlich, who was governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007, decided to kick off his new campaign in Montgomery County where many people count themselves as independent voters. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
It looks like the Bob Ehrlich comeback campaign is over. The Baltimore Sun reported over the weekend that Ehrlich has fallen 14 points behind Gov. Martin O’Malley in its polling, continuing “a trend showing O’Malley breaking away in a race that was once a dead heat.”
The Post says O’Malley has spent about $6 million on advertising over the past two months, and he seems to be deflecting Ehrlich’s criticisms on the condition of the state’s economy. The AP reports Ehrlich has a cash advantage for the final stretch -- he has $1.7 million in the bank, to O’Malley’s $1.1 million -- but it will be hard to close such a big gap. Also, the O’Malley camp says it bought its ads for the last two weeks before it reported its remaining cash on hand.
Another bit of bad news for Ehrlich: Maryland Politics Watch says his running mate, Mary Kane, “used campaign funds to pay her family-owned firm” during her two runs for office in Montgomery County about a decade ago. The Kane Company “is a furniture moving and installation firm” run by Kane’s husband, a former chairman of the Maryland Republican Party.
So if Maryland voters aren’t blaming O’Malley for the economy, who are they blaming? President Obama remains popular in the state, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski is expected to coast to re-election over her GOP rival, Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Eric Wargotz. (In fact, as the Post reports, the two probably won’t even debate before the election.) The only Maryland incumbent who is in jeopardy next week is First District U.S. Rep. Frank Kratovil.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* Should the Post “get over it”? The paper’s endorsement of Republican Dave Hedgepeth over Democratic incumbent Mary Cheh in D.C.’s Ward 3 has some scratching their heads. We Love D.C.’s Tom Bridge says the Post went on “at length about the perceived faults of the incumbent,” while saying little about Hedgepeth himself, and the Georgetown Dish now says the Post should take Marion Barry’s 1994 advice “to ‘get over it’…and catch up with reality when writing on District issues and candidates.”
The Dish says the Post “seems to be engaged in a transparent, hopeless re-fighting of the Democratic primary contest for mayor,” and is faulting Cheh for endorsing Vincent Gray in a ward where Adrian Fenty ended up with 79 percent of the vote. Hedgepeth, the Dish says, “is a serious candidate and is another step in the rise of the Republican party as an alternative political force in the District, but that he “is not even in the same universe as Ms. Cheh when it comes to proven public service.” (Bridge also says the endorsement may be more about Fenty than Cheh.)
This raises a question: What is “proven public service” before being elected to the Council? Though some current members spent time in the trenches of the advisory neighborhood commission, others like Cheh did not. What should be the first step for someone who wants to seek elected office in the District?
In her Washington Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras says Hedgepeth “has pledged to focus on things that matter to Ward 3 residents, including supporting small businesses and improving public safety,” and though Cheh “has pounced on Hedgepeth’s party affiliation,” he “is no ‘right-wing nut.’ He is, however, all Ward 3. Some residents, including Democrats, believe that kind of representative on the council would be refreshing -- and long overdue.”
* The Dish also writes that “it was Williams Day at Saturday’s Vincent Gray fundraiser at Againn Bistro as a few generations of Williamses came to greet the soon-to-be mayor.” Ex-mayor Tony Williams, a former Fenty fan, “publicly showed his support for Gray,” and showed off his new granddaughter. Williams’s mother Virginia, a vocal Gray supporter during the primary campaign, was on hand as well, and got praise from Gray: “Mrs. Williams has been reinstated as the First Mother of D.C.,” he said. “She has adopted me as her newest son.”
Gray said he takes the Write Fenty In campaign seriously, and Tony Williams, “who won the Democratic nomination eight years ago via a write-in vote after problems with his nominating petitions, readily piped up, that yes, all such movements should be taken very seriously.” The Post says Gray plans to meet with D.C. religious leaders Tuesday as he prepares for the general election and his likely transition.
* Gray’s election can be safely assumed, but what about Vincent Orange’s? Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman says D.C. Democratic State Committee members received an e-mail from Orange, who is hoping to be tapped by the committee to fill the remainder of Kwame Brown’s At-Large term, in which Orange favorably compares himself to Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln, Orange writes, “was rejected so many times that it was unbelievable that he became President of the United States,” while “Vincent is a winner,” and his “accomplishments and success are second to none; and are well documented.”
Lincoln actually only lost two elections throughout his career, while Orange has lost two in the last four years, but Orange has an even bigger authority on his side: “GOD is in charge! And he will deliver Vincent Orange when he is ready.”
* As for Kwame Brown, the Examiner’s Freeman Klopott says he “hasn’t always been the most decisive member of the council,” but now that he’s set to become chairman, he “has started pushing his own policy” -- and making it clear that he intends to be more than a junior partner to Vincent Gray.
* The Post makes its endorsements for D.C. State Board of Education, backing Patrick Mara in Ward 1, Laura Slover in Ward 3, Mark Jones in Ward 5, and Monica Warren-Jones in Ward 6.
* The Post’s Colbert King says a GOP Congress would be bad for D.C. home rule, and there’s no Jack Kemp or Tom Davis to protect us this time around.
* Is the rent too damn high? The video of droll, excellently bearded New York gubernatorial candidate Jimmy McMillan repeatedly making that assertion has gone viral, but is it true for folks in D.C? UrbanTurf D.C. considers the question.
* Are DCist readers too damn mean? The Slow Cook thinks so.
* Is this jack-o-lantern awesome? Yes!
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC