- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. says his re-election campaign raised $630,000 in a 17-day period last month.

The haul brought his fundraising total to more than $8.5 million.

“The commitment and generosity of my supporters continue to amaze and humble me,” said Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican seeking a second term. “Four years ago, I made a promise to change Maryland for the better. My administration has done just that and my campaign will continue to use this overwhelming expression of support to further my vision for better schools, safer neighborhoods and a healthier environment.”

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, a Democratic candidate for governor, has a war chest of about $4.4 million, according to his Aug. 15 campaign finance report to the State Board of Elections.

Neither Mr. Ehrlich nor Mr. O’Malley faces a challenger in the Sept. 12 primary. They already are campaigning against each other in advance of the Nov. 7 general election.

Mr. Ehrlich shared these statistics about the contributions he received last month:

• He raised $565,000 and has $8,355,989 cash on hand.

• The number of contributions was 4,970 with an average of $113.

• The average contribution per day was $37,058 or $48,461 per business day.

• Of 3,097 contributions, 62 percent were less than $100.

• The number of donors was 4,143.

• 98 percent of the donors were in-state.

• Shifting allegiance

Only a few days after Maryland’s highest court said Tom Perez wasn’t eligible to run for state attorney general, Mr. Perez endorsed fellow Democrat Stuart O. Simms.

Appearing with Mr. Simms before a crowd of cheering supporters at a Takoma Park community center, Mr. Perez sharply criticized the Aug. 25 ruling by the Court of Appeals that he did not meet state requirements to run for attorney general and should be removed from the ballot.

Mr. Perez, a member of the Montgomery County Council, said people who voted for him on absentee ballots were disenfranchised by the ruling, comparing it to the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that settled the election for president.

“Last Friday was a dark day for democracy and the democratic process in Maryland,” Mr. Perez said at the Takoma Park event.

Despite the court’s decision, elections officials said it was too late to remove Mr. Perez’s name from electronic voting machines and paper ballots before the Sept. 12 primary. Notices at polling places will say votes for Mr. Perez would not be counted.

Mr. Perez urged people not to vote for him even though his name still may appear on the ballot.

“We’re working hard to get it off,” he said. “We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t get a name off a ballot in two weeks?”

Mr. Perez was the first Hispanic to serve on the Montgomery County Council when he was elected in 2002 after a career in the Justice Department and on Capitol Hill.

He announced his candidacy in May after Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. said he planned to retire. He built support among labor unions and said he raised $600,000 .

But his time in Washington may have hurt him. The Court of Appeals, ruling on a legal challenge to Mr. Perez’s candidacy filed by a Montgom-ery Republican activist, concluded he had not practiced law in Maryland the required 10 years to qualify for attorney general. Mr. Perez did not join the Maryland bar until 2001.

That leaves Mr. Simms and Montgomery County State’s Attorney Douglas F. Gansler in the race for the Democratic nomination. Frederick County State’s Attorney Scott L. Rolle is the only Republican candidate.

Mr. Simms faced a bump in the road earlier this year when Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan withdrew from the race for governor. Mr. Simms was to be his running mate.

• A sea of red

Linda W. Cropp and several hundred supporters were seeing red at a luncheon rally last week.

But it was a good thing. The supporters and the candidate for D.C. mayor all were asked to wear red, one of the Cropp campaign’s colors, to the event at the Franklin Club at Franklin Square.

The buffet lunch was sponsored by the Business Leaders Political Action Committee.

The event started at noon. By the time the guest of honor made her grand entrance a half-hour later, the club’s lobby was a sea of scarlet and the air a mix of perfumes.

Mrs. Cropp was greeted at the door with enthusiastic chants of “mayor, mayor.” The event was not a fundraiser.

• Oldie but goodie

Floyd LaBarre was just following doctor’s orders when he gave up his candidacy for the Cecil County school board.

Mr. LaBarre, 88, said there is nothing wrong with his health, but his physician told him he would have to find another doctor if he didn’t quit the race.

The Rising Sun resident was one of three persons running in the Sept. 12 primary in District 2. The top two vote-getters will run against each other in November. With Mr. LaBarre’s withdrawal, the primary would now appear to be unnecessary, but he announced his decision too late to have his name removed from the ballot.

And if he somehow finishes among the top two, Mr. LaBarre will ask his doctor to reconsider his opinion.

• 30-second spots

A statewide television campaign started last week for U.S. Sen. George Allen that will include a 30-second ad targeted at voters in Northern Virginia.

The ad, which will air only in the Washington area for now, highlights a bill sponsored by Mr. Allen that is designed to increase the number of engineers and scientists while increasing federal funding for science and technology research.

A second ad that talks about Mr. Allen’s efforts to crack down on gangs and sexual predators will air across the state. Neither ad mentions his Democratic opponent, former Navy Secretary James H. Webb Jr.

• Strategic edge

Hitting the stump in Ames, Iowa, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, voiced growing concern Tuesday with his party’s electoral strategy, arguing that Democrats’ willingness to write off sections of the country could make it nearly impossible to win the White House.

“I got pretty frustrated after 2004,” he said. “We are making a mistake if we put up candidates that are only competitive in 16 states and then we roll the dice and hope we win Ohio or Florida.”

In an interview with the Associated Press, Mr. Warner insisted he wasn’t being critical of 2004 Democratic nominee John Kerry, whom he called “a very strong candidate.” But Mr. Warner said Democrats must stop conceding entire regions of the country.

“We do our party and the country a disservice if we’re not competitive in the South and the balance of the Midwest,” he said. “I’m disappointed in campaigns that write off the South and leave behind wide swaths of our country.”

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean has steered money and staff to all states, contending that the party needs to build its operation in Republican bastions.

Mr. Warner spoke after a campaign appearance in Ames, home of Iowa State University and a popular spot for Democratic contenders. To be successful, he said, Democrats must reach beyond bastions such as college towns.

“We’ve got to have candidates who can campaign not only in Ames, but at NASCAR races, candidates who can campaign in the barrio and changing communities,” he said. “We’ve got to have a message that’s more focused on solutions than simply focused on criticism.”

In making his case, Mr. Warner said he was elected governor in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, and last year he helped get his Democratic lieutenant governor elected to replace him.

Mr. Warner argued that his success in Virginia came largely because he refused to give up on rural areas that traditionally vote Republican. He has taken the same approach in Iowa, spending time in the heavily Republican — and rural — western part of the state.

Mr. Warner also cited history, noting the success of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter.

“History has been pretty kind to Southern governors over the last 50 years,” Mr. Warner said.

• Their man Mfume

Maryland’s two black members of Congress threw their support to fellow Democrat Kweisi Mfume on Wednesday in his race for the nomination for the U.S. Senate.

The support of Reps. Albert A. Wynn and Elijah E. Cummings could help boost turnout among black voters, who are the key to Mr. Mfume’s chances of winning the nomination. He and U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who is white, are considered to be the front-runners in a crowded Democratic field.

Mr. Cardin has the backing of two other Democratic House members, Steny H. Hoyer and C.A. Dutch Ruppersburger.

Although Mr. Cummings and Mr. Wynn in Baltimore made their endorsements late in the campaign, Mr. Mfume said he liked the timing because they “only carry significance when they come early in the campaign or come late.”

Combined with the early support from state Senate Majority Leader Nathaniel J. McFadden of Baltimore and Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson, Mr. Mfume said Mr. Wynn and Mr. Cummings “close the loop on the top four African-American leaders in the state.”

• Precinct problem

D.C. residents hoping to vote in the Sept. 12 primary may want to watch their mailboxes for the next week. Some of the voter guides that arrived last week have the incorrect voting precinct number on the labels.

That means residents relying on the voter guides to tell them where they should go on Election Day may have the wrong information.

Officials with the Board of Elections said the error was made by their printing contractor, Toucan Printing and Promotional Products Inc.

Officials said they would send out a “supplemental postcard” with the correct precinct information as soon as possible to every D.C. household with eligible voters.

There was no word on how much the mistake will cost the city or the printing contractor.

Amy Doolittle and S.A. Miller contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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