The other big Maryland race

In focusing so heavily on the Maryland Senate race, and Senate races generally, I have virtually ignored what’s turned out to be a fascinating race for governor in my home state. My early view that Republican Gov. Bob Ehrlich had little hope of being re-elected also contributed to my neglect.
Ehrlich has run an outstanding campaign and could win an upset victory. By all accounts Ehrlich is a great guy, and he’s run a relentlessly positive campaign, at least with respect to his ads in the Washington, D.C. area. On the other hand, his opponent, Baltimore Mayor O’Malley, has been quite negative. That’s entirely legitimate. Ehrlich is the incumbent and should be attacked on his record — to my knowledge, O’Malley has made no personal attacks. But I’ve talked to center-left voters who have noticed the contrast, and say they are taking another look at Ehrlich.
Ehrlich, in fact, has an advantage over his lieutenant governor Michael Steele. Anti-Bush voters want to see the Senate turn, but lack that incentive to vote Democratic when it comes to the governor’s race.
Moreover, O’Malley appears to have problems with three central elements of the Democratic base. Some Montgomery County liberals fear that, as a Baltimore guy, he doesn’t know or care about the D.C. suburbs. Some Prince Georges County African-Americans are upset that the state party seems to take the black vote for granted. And some Baltimore African-Americans are unhappy that, in an effort to reduce the city’s very high crime rate, O’Malley’s police force has cracked down too hard on blacks.
O’Malley’s “lead,” seven percentage points two months ago, is now down to one. So in essence the race looks like a dead heat. It’s another one to watch this evening.
UPDATE: I guess I made up for my neglect of this race by managing to post the identical item three times. Apologies to those who saw it three times before I fixed the problem.

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