Gubernatorial candidates prepare for final weeks

Campaign Day

Maryland Votes 2006

14 Days Until Nov. 7

October 24, 2006|By Andrew A. Green and John Fritze | Andrew A. Green and John Fritze,SUN REPORTERS

Maryland's candidates for governor took a final breather yesterday in advance of an all-out push for the election two weeks from today.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. continued his strategy of staying in the news through government announcements - yesterday, he called attention to his record on stopping childhood lead poisoning and improving transportation and economic development.

Aides say he will take to the campaign trail today for a series of events designed to draw a contrast between himself and his Democratic opponent, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley. Details were still being finalized.

The mayor, fresh off of a weekend of campaigning in Baltimore, Ocean City, Rockville and Columbia, had no public events yesterday but appeared for an hour on The Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU-FM in Washington. He used the hour to criticize Ehrlich for his opposition to multiculturalism and for increases in college tuition during his term.

O'Malley - who has scheduled more campaign events than Ehrlich during the past several weeks - is also expecting a major push in the coming days, including the announcement of a state transportation plan this morning in Prince George's County and the start of a weeklong bus tour that aides say will take him to all corners of the state.

Ehrlich campaign spokeswoman Shareese N. DeLeaver said the governor will unveil a number of strategies in the coming days to compare his "record of accomplishment with O'Malley's record of failed leadership."

"Maryland voters deserve to see a comprehensive contrast for their gubernatorial candidates, and once both records are laid on the table, we're confident that Maryland voters will make the right choice," DeLeaver said.

Yesterday, Ehrlich kicked off the 19th annual Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Week with a stop at Perry Hall High School, and he attended the ribbon-cutting for the extension of Route 43, a highway expected to play a major role in development in eastern Baltimore County.

He wasn't stumping for support at the events - most of those who crowded into the Perry Hall High School library to see him weren't old enough to vote anyway - but he did get the chance to outline his administration's successes and goals, including eradicating childhood lead poisoning by 2010.

"There is no excuse for a single child in this state to suffer from lead poisoning," Ehrlich said.

Rick Abbruzzese, an O'Malley spokesman, said officials are organizing a tour that will take the campaign to southern and western Maryland, as well as to the Eastern Shore and the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area in the final days before Nov. 7. Abbruzzese said the campaign is expecting several endorsements this week.

On WAMU yesterday, O'Malley discussed transportation, homeland security and education, frequently repeating his campaign's attempts to tie Ehrlich to the unpopular Bush administration.

"As a state, we should be doing better," O'Malley said. "I believe that our state can do better and I think that we are ill-served by a governor who sides time and time again with the narrow-minded politics of George Bush."

Candidates today

Ehrlich: -- 9 a.m., speaking to the Maryland Classified Employees Association, Ocean City Convention Center, 4001 Coastal Highway; other campaign events not yet finalized.

O'Malley: -- 7:30 a.m., greeting commuters at New Carrollton Metro stop, 4700 Garden City Drive, New Carrollton; 9 a.m., unveiling transportation plan at New Carrollton Metro stop; 11:45 a.m., attending luncheon of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union retirees, 4210 Primrose Ave., Baltimore.

Steele: -- No public schedule.

Cardin: -- 11:30 a.m., hosting a roundtable of stem cell researchers, University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Columbus Center, Multipurpose Room, second floor, 701 E. Pratt St.; 1 p.m., speak at AFSCME luncheon.

andy.green@baltsun.com john.fritze@baltsun.com

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