- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

Increasing numbers of suburban voters and declining voter turnout in the black Democratic strongholds of Prince George's County and Baltimore contributed heavily to Republican Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s victory Tuesday in the Maryland gubernatorial election.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend won the "big three" jurisdictions of Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and Baltimore, which helped put Gov. Parris N. Glendening in office in 1994 and 1998. But Mr. Ehrlich won every other jurisdiction in the state, including the fast-growing suburbs of Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Frederick, Howard and Harford counties.
Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1 in Maryland, but in many jurisdictions, Mr. Ehrlich received twice as many votes as Mrs. Townsend. In fact, he received three times as many votes as Mrs. Townsend in Caroline, Garrett and Harford counties, and four times as many votes in Carroll County, Maryland's most Republican jurisdiction.
Many of these jurisdictions re-elected Democratic incumbents near the top of the ticket Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer with overwhelming support, giving them 60 percent to 80 percent of the vote. It was not immediately known how many Democrats voted for Mr. Ehrlich.
Mr. Ehrlich received 878,727 votes, or about 52 percent of the total, and Mrs. Townsend received 811,770, or about 48 percent, according to unofficial tallies by the Maryland State Board of Elections. Mr. Ehrlich became the first Republican to win a gubernatorial election since Spiro T. Agnew in 1966. His running mate, Michael S. Steele, became the first black to win a statewide election in Maryland's history.
Conventional wisdom held that the state's most populous and Democratic jurisdictions Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and Baltimore are key to statewide election victories, and they proved to be key in Mr. Ehrlich's victory Tuesday.
Political analysts estimate about 13 percent more voters stayed home in the Democratic strongholds on Tuesday than in 1998.
About the same percentage of eligible Maryland voters turned out Tuesday (59 percent) as in 1998 (61 percent). But significantly fewer voters turned out in the majority-black jurisdictions of Baltimore (53 percent Tuesday, compared with 56 percent in 1998) and Prince George's County (52 percent Tuesday, compared with 59 percent in 1998).
Montgomery County also recorded a drop in voter participation: 61 percent Tuesday, from 64 percent in 1998.
Conversely, voter participation in Carroll County climbed from 63 percent in 1998 to 66 percent Tuesday, and 66 percent of voters turned out Tuesday in Mr. Ehrlich's home base of Baltimore County, compared with 61 percent in 1998.
The voters who stayed home voted against Mrs. Townsend, said Ron Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, adding that those that voted for Mr. Ehrlich really voted against Mrs. Townsend.
"The black vote had an impact by not turning out in many areas," Mr. Walters said, adding that the Townsend campaign failed to attract black voters because "she took the black vote for granted."
Jon Ward contributed to this report.

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