- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Republican Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Democrat Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend are starting massive voter-turnout drives and revisiting black voters in their bids to win the tight Maryland governor's race.
The Democrats are promising the "most sophisticated" get-out-the-vote effort in state history, targeting traditionally Democratic black voters concentrated in Baltimore and Prince George's County.
The Republicans, who need to energize a conservative base sprinkled throughout the electorate, will go after "swing areas" and pockets of Republican support within the historically Democratic state.
The campaign staffs will use phone banks, direct mail, leaflets and door-to-door visits to urge supporters to cast ballots. They also will offer to transport voters to the polls Tuesday.
Mr. Ehrlich has made a deliberate effort to reach black voters and has forged unprecedented inroads for a Republican candidate. Regardless, heavy turnout in Baltimore and Prince George's County should favor Mrs. Townsend and tip the election her way, a Republican strategist said.
In Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a margin of 2-to-1, Republicans have no heavily populated strongholds to target the way Democrats reach out to black communities. Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore, which typically go Republican, do not have enough voters to outweigh the voter-rich Washington suburbs and Baltimore.
Mr. Ehrlich's campaign staff appears to have crafted a strategy for targeting the swing areas to overcome the disadvantage.
A massive turnout drive in Prince George's and Montgomery counties and Baltimore clinched Gov. Parris N. Glendening's victory over Republican Ellen Sauerbrey in 1998. He won that election by a 12-percent margin built from his lead in those three jurisdictions. Ms. Sauerbrey won in many of the other counties but captured just 10 percent of the black vote.
Polls show Mr. Ehrlich's support among black voters has dropped from 14 percent to 11 percent. Still, his campaign staff remains convinced Mr. Ehrlich has wide support in Baltimore and Prince George's County and crossover appeal with Democrats across the state.
"We are very well aware that a lot of polling is going on these days, but the feedback we are getting from African-American voters speak louder than numbers," said Shareese DeLeaver, Mr. Ehrlich's campaign spokeswoman.
Mrs. Townsend has a strategy similar to Mr. Glendening's, with church groups, civic clubs and union operatives marshaling black voters to the polls. They will be working the polls, canvassing neighborhoods and prodding voters in Democratic precincts where turnout appears low on Election Day.
"The campaign will have one of the strongest, one of the deepest, the most sophisticated get-out-the-vote efforts ever in the air and on the ground," said Len Foxwell, Mrs. Townsend's campaign spokesman.
He declined to elaborate on why it was the most sophisticated.
Mr. Ehrlich has the advantage of a larger war chest, having surpassed Mrs. Townsend in fund raising. Mr. Ehrlich collected a record $8.6 million to Mrs. Townsend's $7.9 million, according to campaign finance reports released last week.
The extra money likely will finance more radio and television ads to energizing Mr. Ehrlich's supporters statewide and convert the approximately 7 percent of voters who remain undecided.
His turnout drive also will extend to other Ehrlich-friendly groups such as Hispanic and Jewish communities and members of the numerous police unions that have endorsed him.
The campaign will pour its resources into swing areas that have experienced rapid population growth in recent years or that otherwise have been identified as favoring Mr. Ehrlich.
In Montgomery County, the campaign staff has identified Burtonsville, Gaithersburg and some precincts in Bethesda and Chevy Chase as swing areas.
"You really can't take any pocket for granted, especially in Montgomery County," said Lei Ann Ulep, a regional field director for the Ehrlich campaign. "We are not just getting the conservative base. We are getting out all the voters who are for Bob Ehrlich."
Mr. Ehrlich's Montgomery County campaign expects a boost from an appearance Sunday in Gaithersburg by former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.
In Prince George's County, where the Ehrlich campaign claims to have more than 20 percent support, Mrs. Townsend has arranged campaign appearances with former Vice President Al Gore tomorrow in Bowie and former President Bill Clinton on Friday in Landover.
Wayne Clarke, Ehrlich campaign coordinator for Prince George's County, said the Republican's heavy campaigning in the county would swing more black voters than the Democrats expect. He said the Democratic turnout drive ultimately could benefit Mr. Ehrlich.
"I don't think conventional wisdom bears true in this race," he said. "There is a lot of discontent with Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, especially within the African-American community, and we will capitalize on that discontent."

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