- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2001

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Marylands lieutenant governor since 1995, is determined to add another conquest to her familys political history by becoming its first governor. And, if the polls are any indication, it will take more than money to overcome this money-raising powerhouse.
According to a poll released May 16, Mrs. Townsend dominates a field of five possible Democrats in the 2002 race for governor with 40 percent of the vote. Baltimore Mayor Martin OMalley sits in spot No. 2 with 19 percent, while two inside-the-Beltway well-knowns Prince Georges County Executive Wayne Curry (9 percent) and Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan (7 percent) and Baltimore County Executive Dutch Ruppersberger (8 percent) pull up the rear.
However, the poll, which was conducted May 9-13 and queried likely Democratic voters, has an interesting twist. When those voters were asked to choose between Mrs. Townsend or Mr. OMalley, the mayor surged ahead to 40 percent and Mrs. Townsend won 47 percent a clear sign that even a Kennedy can be beaten.
Indeed, that is precisely what Maryland Republicans must keep in mind between now and Primary Day 2002, and why they must unite behind a proven winner. To be sure, two-timer Ellen Saubrey gave Parris Glendening a considerable run for the money, but her prospects are cloudy. Several other Republicans, though, are fresh and exciting, including the popular and moderate politics of Rep. Connie Morella. Now deputy majority whip, she was re-elected to her eighth term in 2000 and has statewide name recognition for another reason she served eight years in the Maryland House. And, if a Kennedy-Morella match were to turn on such issues as the environment and commerce, womens issues and family values, Mrs. Morella would knock the very liberal socks off Mrs. Townsend.
On the other hand, Democrats are giving Mrs. Morella a hard time all around. The Maryland General Assembly, which is controlled by Democrats, are scheming to redraw the 8th Congressional District to include more Democrats and weaken the Republicans hand in Congress. That plan, and sheer political ego, led a pack of Democrats to consider challenging Mrs. Morella should seek re-election. What all of this means is Mrs. Morella could face yet another Kennedy if she runs in that direction. Mark K. (for Kennedy) Shriver, a member of the Maryland House, announced his interest in Mrs. Morellas seat in April. Mr. Shriver is the son of Sargent and Eunice Shriver, who quite recently hosted several thousand people at their estate in Potomac to shore up support for their niece, Mrs. Townsend.
While Mrs. Morella mulls her options, another Republican, Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., estimates a candidate in Marylands 2002 governors race will need a war chest of $6 million to $8 million. Mr. Ehrlich says hell either run for governor or seek a fifth term representing Baltimore, Howard and Anne Arundel counties. "You try to be honest with yourself, which is sometimes hard for a politician," he recently told reporter Margie Hyslop. "Ive not been an executive, but Ive won elections … dealt with high-profile bills and issues and have a comfort level there thats half the equation. The other half is 'Can we win? "
In a state that has not elected a Republican governor since Spiro T. Agnew in 1966 and where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1, Republicans have their work cut out for them. Time to roll up the sleeves unless, that is, they want to make Maryland political history as gubernatorial also-rans.

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