Volume 14, Issue 27 ~ July 6 - July 12, 2006


Fireworks Signal Explosive Election Season

Who needs TV?

When the smoke cleared last week, Marylanders had the makings of the most exciting election year in memory, a ballot loaded top-down with drama.

The end of the filing period for elective office marked the beginning of a slew of nail-biting contests not for the faint of political heart.

Will the race for governor generate more heat than light as a mano a mano slugfest between two appealing candidates?

What kind of surprise will the rare opening of a Senate seat give us?

Will the GOP troubles — fallout from war and White House failures — rain down on local races, where Republicans have been in the upswing?

Will certain politicians succeed in forcing their so-called moral values on the rest of us?

The early departure of Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan from the Democrats’ gubernatorial primary was a gift to his party. Watching Duncan ads slap around Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, who was likely to win the nomination in any case, was like dripping water torture for Democrats wanting the governor’s mansion.

In O’Malley, Marylanders have a young Kennedy-esque figure with a load of talent but also a politician untested on any big stage. To win in November, he’ll need to persuade people that he is more than a handsome dude who can play guitar.

Ehrlich has wisely shunned some of the right-wing ideology that would have put him far out of step with his state, and he has done well on some fronts, namely engineering the flush-tax to begin getting at the root of Chesapeake Bay’s worst pollution problem, outmoded sewage treatment plants. But we’ve been troubled by the occasional pettiness of his politics and the lapses in leadership over the issues of slots and utility rate relief.

In the Senate race, will Ben Cardin excite enough voters to win? Can Kweise Mfume win with no money? Will Michael Steele avoid more campaign blunders?

In the competition for Anne Arundel County executive, the Republican primary contest is a compelling one indeed, with five jostling candidates in the race. Yes, John Leopold formally joined the race at the 11th hour, running for the seat he said he wanted all along despite the lure of an empty senate seat.

In Calvert County, nothing tops the race for delegate between appointed incumbent Democrat Sue Kullen, whose hard work and results-oriented lawmaking style has many converts, and David Hale, a county commissioner who is among the best the Republicans have to offer in southern Maryland.

And in another delegate race in that region, we’ll be watching to see how neophyte Democrat Norma Powers, who has strong ties to the military, runs against GOP veteran Anthony O’Donnell, whose hard-nosed competence has carried him into his party’s leadership in Annapolis.

So get ready for a memorable political season, and remember that — unlike what you see on the screen — the political dramas unfolding over the next 16 weeks play out in real time with real consequences for your real life.

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