- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The diminutive lieutenant governor of Maryland, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, has large hopes of winning next month's gubernatorial contest against Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich. And until late July, her campaign was cruising towards victory.
But something happened on the way to Annapolis. Mr. Ehrlich turned his attention from matters of national importance, such as the war on terror and the economy, to his campaign. Mr. Ehrlich found his groove in July and August and polls tightened accordingly. Mrs. Townsend, the self-described friend of black voters, then chose a wealthy white Republican as her running mate, a move that amounted to a slap in the face to black voters who had bailed out both the 1994 and 1998 Glendening-Townsend campaigns.
In a blatant attempt to stir up animosity against Mr. Ehrlich in Maryland's ethnic communities and blunt the congressman's advances therein, Townsend operative Julius Henson labeled Mr. Ehrlich a member of the Third Reich by virtue of his congressional voting record. "Bobby Ehrlich is a Nazi. His record is horrible, atrocious," Mr. Henson was quoted as saying in a telephone interview with The Washington Post. "In Prince George's County, we'll define him as the Nazi he is. Once we do that, I think people will vote for Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. He should be running in Germany in 1942, not Maryland in 2002."
Equating a moderate political opponent with a genocidal maniac should have no place in politics, but in Maryland it seems standard procedure for the Democratic Party. Mrs. Townsend, herself, was set to brandish the race card at the first candidate debate a week later.
In their initial confrontation on Sept. 26 before a supposedly neutral crowd of mostly NAACP members, a vitriolic Mrs. Townsend pressed her advantage. On several occasions, she pandered to the predominantly black audience, implying Mr. Ehrlich was hiding a racist core because the congressman refused to support affirmative action or other NAACP causes. Mr. Ehrlich stated honestly that, like many people, he simply has "philosophical differences" with the organization. Mrs. Townsend, who once campaigned under the guise of "new Democrat" toed the old Democrat line, reassuring attendees and viewers, "My fight is your fight, my cause is your cause. And that truly differentiates me from my opponent."
Mrs. Townsend engaged in classic race-baiting on the subject of affirmative action, insinuating Mr. Ehrlich was a bigot for voting against an amendment to the Higher Education Act. This would have prohibited public colleges and universities from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to individuals based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Mrs. Townsend inflamed the crowd by stating, "he opposes affirmative action based on race. Well, let me tell you, slavery was based on race. Lynching was based on race. Discrimination was based on race. Jim Crow was based on race, and affirmative action should be based on race." As designed, the comment elicited thunderous applause from the gallery and transformed the debate underdog into the aggressor.
Since that initial debate, polls show the candidates in a virtual dead heat. In the tradition of her notorious race-baiting boss, Gov. Parris Glendening, Mrs. Townsend is gearing up to execute the party's racist endgame. She's brought back Democrat operative Robert Shrum, savior of Glendening-Townsend's 1998 reelection campaign and longtime Kennedy family attack dog, to do her dirty work.
Mr. Shrum's effort in 1996 to torpedo California's anti-discrimination Proposition 209 included an ad with the implicit message that only Ku Klux Klan sympathizers would support such a measure. In Glendening-Townsend's 1998 rematch with Republican Ellen Sauerbrey, Mr. Shrum spearheaded the outrageous effort to brand the GOP candidate a racist for a handful of "civil-rights" votes she cast while serving in the state legislature. The allegation was so unfounded and so malicious, that the mayor of Baltimore at the time, black Democrat Kurt Schmoke, distanced himself from the charges against Mrs. Sauerbrey. Several black Democrat officials held a rally in Mrs. Sauerbrey's defense.
The slander of Mrs. Sauerbrey's record was the second installment of the Glendening-Townsend race-baiting campaign. In Mr. Glendening and Mrs. Sauerbrey's first tussle in 1994, Mrs. Sauerbrey was ahead late when results started coming in from heavily black Democrat precincts in Baltimore, giving Mr. Glendening a 5,993-vote victory and prompting an FBI investigation.
Findings determined that Democrat Party workers stuffed ballot boxes and altered voting machines after the polls were closed. In Baltimore, 5,832 more votes were tallied than there were voters who checked in at precincts or cast absentee ballots, and duplicated voting machine keys allowed some people to vote more than once. The investigation even located hundreds of addresses listed by Baltimore voters to boarded-up houses and vacant lots.
Mrs. Townsend's do-anything-to-get-elected mentality allows her to malign her opponents and use scare tactics to persuade certain voter segments to support her. Mrs. Townsend's record as a candidate further compels her to go negative and use race as her ticket to the governor's mansion.

David N. Bossie is president of Citizens United and the former chief investigator for the House Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.

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