Candidates unleash more transportation accusations

Campaign Day

Maryland Votes 2006

10 Days Until Nov. 7

October 28, 2006|By John Fritze and Andrew A. Green | John Fritze and Andrew A. Green,Sun Reporters

Transportation continued to drive the gubernatorial election as Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. campaigned on the route of the proposed Inter-County Connector in Maryland's Washington suburbs yesterday and took digs at Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley for the city's potholes.

Ehrlich's event came days after O'Malley unveiled his transportation plan in New Carrollton, Prince George's County, that called for an audit of state transportation resources. Meanwhile, the candidates for U.S. Senate, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, bickered this week over the Metro system's proposed Purple Line.

Candidates in both races have been making efforts in recent days to court suburban Washington voters by talking about clogged transportation systems. In the governor's race, O'Malley shook commuters' hands at the Bethesda Metro stop yesterday morning. Ehrlich used the Muirkirk MARC station as a platform to criticize his opponent for his statements on the ICC.

"This is a political event, so I'm supposed to compare and contrast my record with my opponent's record," Ehrlich said. "There is no record for my opponent, so I'm going to skip that part. There is nothing except potholes in Baltimore City." The governor did have plenty of criticism, though, for O'Malley's comments on the ICC. "He kind of supports it but just doesn't understand why it has to be a toll road," Ehrlich said. "He can't have it both ways."

O'Malley spokesman Steve Kearney said the Ehrlich campaign has the mayor's position on the ICC wrong.

"He doesn't agree with this trend of funding everything as a toll road, but the ICC is already through the gate and will go forward as planned," Kearney said. "The ICC is a done deal. We're not proposing to undo or change anything."

As for the potholes, Kearney said the city has had a guarantee in place for six years to fix potholes within 48 hours after they are reported. In that time, the program has had a 99 percent compliance rate, he said.

This week, O'Malley said that if he is elected, he will order an audit of the state's transportation resources and would name a commission to develop a 10-year funding plan for transportation initiatives. Ehrlich aides had dismissed O'Malley's transportation plan as lacking specifics.

Cardin and Steele started sniping at each other about the Purple Line at a debate this week, when Steele caught his Democratic rival unable to name the line's termination points. But Steele then made his own gaffe by scheduling a news event Thursday at a Metro stop that, it turned out, was several stops away from where the line would connect.

After leaving Bethesda, O'Malley received the endorsement of law enforcement groups, including the National Black Police Association and the AFSCME Local 3661 Chapter of Parole and Probation Officers at an event near Baltimore's City Hall. Later, the mayor spoke to the Islamic Society of Baltimore after the group's weekly prayer.

"I'm so very grateful ... to my Muslim neighbors, especially during these troubled times, for stepping up and insisting that we hold dear not only to those beliefs that unite but to the ideals that are our country."

john.fritze@baltsun.com

Candidates today

Ehrlich -- 8:30 a.m., attends Associated Black Charities 21st Annual Meeting of Recognition Breakfast reception, Hyatt Regency Hotel, 300 Light St., Baltimore; 1:15 p.m., speaks at state NAACP candidates forum, 20 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore.

O'Malley -- 10:30 a.m., participates in a Democratic Unity Rally, Liberty Court Shopping Center, 8604 Liberty Road, Randallstown; 1 p.m., speaks to the state NAACP candidates forum, 20 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore; 5:30 p.m., attends tailgate at the University of Maryland football game, Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium, University of Maryland, College Park.

Cardin -- 2:15 p.m., speaks at state NAACP candidates forum, 20 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore.

Steele -- No schedule available.

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