Politics 2010: Can Palin's involvement tilt GOP governor's race?

By NICOLE DEBEVEC, United Press International  |  Sept. 12, 2010 at 5:00 AM
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Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin reached out and touched Maryland Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Murphy only modestly in his wallet.

Murphy, who is running in the GOP primary Tuesday against former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., reported raising about $35,000 -- including $14,000 from himself -- during an 18-day period that started about a week after the Palin endorsement and ended Aug. 29, The Washington Post reported recently. In fact Murphy, a long shot to capture the GOP nod, reported spending more than he raised.

By contrast, Ehrlich reported raising more than $725,000 during the 18-day period.

Ehrlich caught flak from Democrats over an endorsement he received from the Maryland Classified Employees Association, which claims a membership of 9,700 active and retired state and county workers, the Post said.

In announcing the endorsement, Ehrlich knocked Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, for furloughing state employees to help balance the budget, saying he does not believe in the practice of unpaid leave.

In trying to discredit the endorsement, the Maryland Democratic Party noted the union's executive director, David Boschert, is a former Republican delegate who is running to get his seat back this year.

O'Malley, facing no serious challenge in the primary, reported having $6.5 million on hand when the period ended, raising a reported $267,000 during that time.

Palin isn't the only national figure weighing in on Maryland politics, the Post reported.

Former Republican presidential hopeful and Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee endorsed Justin Ready, a candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates. Huckabee's rationale is easy to understand: Ready, was Huckabee's campaign director for Maryland in 2008.

Two powerful Maryland Democrats are asking voters to return them to Washington: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen, both facing several challengers in the primary.

Also up for re-election is Maryland's popular U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving current female senator. The popular incumbent ran away with her four previous Senate primary and general elections and is expected to do so again, CQ Politics said.

Political observers note Maryland is one of the nation's most Democratic-dominated states, and Republicans haven't fielded a particularly strong slate of statewide candidates this election season.

Maryland's experiment with early voting was off to a slow start in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the Post reported two weeks ago. Statewide, 46 polling places are available for early voting, compared to 1,900 precincts on Tuesday.

State and local candidates said they wanted to capture the notice of busy voters.

O'Malley and first lady Katie O'Malley took advantage of the early voting at a North Baltimore polling station.

"It was easy, and it was very quick," O'Malley said after spending about three minutes voting.

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