- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 23, 2005

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. raised a whopping $3.6 million for his re-election campaign over the past nine months and has more than twice as much money in the bank as his two main potential Democratic rivals — Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan.

Reports released by the governor’s campaign committee last week show that he had more than $5.1 million in the bank as of Jan. 11. Mr. Duncan reported a balance of almost $1.5 million, and Mr. O’Malley reported a balance of just over $1 million.

Asked if the governor can continue his scorching money-raising pace as he heads for the 2006 election, John Reith, his chief fund-raiser, said, “I think we definitely can.”

“We have a huge list of people who love the governor and really want to support him,” he said.

Mr. Ehrlich set a Maryland record two years ago when he raised $10.4 million for his battle with then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who collected about $8.5 million. The governor is on a pace to set another record, having collected $6.6 million at the midpoint of his term.

“That’s a lot of money,” said Patrick Gonzales, an Annapolis-based pollster and political consultant. “My response is, ‘Wow.’”

• Live on this

Contractors doing business with the D.C. government could find themselves being forced to pay a so-called “living wage.”

Council member David A. Catania has introduced a bill requiring a minimum of $10.50 an hour be paid to workers hired by public contractors. Any contracts for less than $50,000, or for contractors with fewer than 10 employees, would be exempt.

Mr. Catania, at-large independent, said it is not an undue burden on businesses, and he believes it is the right thing to do.

Metro also is looking at adopting a “living-wage” policy. Arlington, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties already have them.

• Too soon to tell

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said it’s too soon to assess the city’s security or spending from the inaugural festivities on Thursday.

Mr. Williams said the city will make its best assessment after police evaluate the way they handled security.

He said Friday it was too soon to know whether the federal government could pick up the tab for city expenses. Past administrations have reimbursed the city for Inauguration Day costs.

But the Bush White House told the District to dip into nearly $12 million worth of homeland security grants, to cover the estimated $17 million tab.

• A big ‘if’

If he is elected as Virginia’s lieutenant governor in November, Sean Connaughton will quit his current job. Otherwise, he says, he is not going anywhere.

The chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors faces a Republican primary in June. But even if he is successful, he plans to keep his day job until the general election results are in.

Mr. Connaughton told the Potomac News his focus remains on the county government, though he is taking a leave from his job with a Washington law firm. If he is elected lieutenant governor, there would be a special election in the spring of 2006 to fill his county seat.

Last week, Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore announced his resignation, effective Feb. 1, to focus full time on running for governor.

• On the attack

Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson wants to take a tough approach against landlords to crack down on the high homicide rate.

Mr. Johnson told WTOP Radio that authorities know where the crimes are being committed and have identified several apartment complexes as hot spots.

He said they are going to use a “multitask” approach to try to get crime down in those areas.

The county executive, a Democrat, said he wants to set rules for the developments to follow, and if they don’t follow them, the county will use its power to try to shut them down.

Last year, the county had 148 slayings. Its all-time high was 154 homicides in 1991.

Mr. Johnson said he is convinced the programs that he and police Chief Melvin C. High have in place will make a difference in homicides and the overall crime rate this year.

• Tattoo who?

The city of Portsmouth, Va., is considering overturning a ban on tattooing that has been in place since 1962.

One tattoo artist — best known as Dr. Who — has appeared before the City Council several times to oppose what he calls Portsmouth’s outdated and prejudicial ban.

The issue will come again before the council next month.

• Challenger emerges

Barrie Parsons Tilghman, mayor of Salisbury, Md., will have an opponent in the April election.

Mike Della Penna filed to run last week and says he is campaigning to clean up Salisbury’s streets, neighborhoods and government.

Mr. Della Penna, 52, is a Vietnam veteran who was raised near Baltimore and moved to Salisbury two years ago from Virginia.

He said he was inspired to run after he says city officials ignored his complaints about traffic in his neighborhood.

Mrs. Tilghman is seeking a third term.

• No politics here

A Republican move to gain additional power in the Maryland House of Delegates by changing parliamentary rules was quickly shot down last week by the Democratic majority.

Three rule changes were defeated 91-44 with the House voting along party lines.

One of the changes would have allowed the Republican minority leader, instead of the House speaker, to assign Republican delegates to committees.

Also rejected were new rules to give the House Republican Caucus staff unrestricted access to sessions of the House and require at least one Republican to be appointed to each conference committee.

House Minority Leader George C. Edwards of Garrett County said the changes would help ensure fair treatment for Republicans in the House.

But Democrats said they weren’t needed and would encourage partisanship.

This column is based in part on wire service reports.

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