- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 2, 2006

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin yesterday tried to rally support among black Democrats in Prince George’s County, while Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele campaigned with county Democratic leaders who broke ranks this week to endorse him.

Mr. Cardin appeared with Prince George’s County Executive Jack B. Johnson and about 30 other lawmakers in Hyattsville, aiming to keep a diminishing lead in the polls.

Mr. Johnson noted that he supported Mr. Cardin’s opponent in the primary — Kweisi Mfume, past president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“Unfortunately, as Democrats, we know we can only have one winner,” Mr. Johnson said.

Mr. Mfume narrowly lost the nomination and trounced Mr. Cardin in Prince George’s, with 74,637 votes to Mr. Cardin’s 19,824.

In his first public show of support for Mr. Cardin, Mr. Johnson said the 10-term congressman is “one fantastic individual that will represent us in the United States Senate.”

“I am proud and a strong supporter of Ben Cardin for the United States Senate,” Mr. Johnson said.

But the rally turned sour later. State Sen. Nathaniel Exum, Prince George’s Democrat, berated Mr. Cardin for excluding him and other local delegates from speaking or being mentioned.

“You do the same [stuff] over and over again, just ignore us,” Mr. Exum yelled at Mr. Cardin after the rally, which was held in Mr. Exum’s district.

Mr. Cardin shrugged off the incident.

“I think he’s upset that we didn’t go over the names, but I’m not too concerned about it,” Mr. Cardin said. “He’s supporting us.”

Today, Mr. Cardin will appear with Sen. Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, for the second time in this campaign, which has become one of the country’s most closely watched races.

Mr. Cardin’s rally was designed to respond to Mr. Steele’s endorsement from prominent Prince George’s Democrats earlier this week. Former County Executive Wayne K. Curry and all five black members of the County Council endorsed Mr. Steele, saying the Democratic Party has taken black voters for granted.

Mr. Cardin attacked Maryland Republicans, saying their plans to question voters whom they think committed fraud is an attempt at voter intimidation and suppression.

The Maryland Republican Party said the plans were copied from Democratic plans and are allowed under law. They also released a document from the 2004 presidential election in which Colorado Democrats were advised to make up claims of voter intimidation against minority voters if none could be found.

The election could hinge on how Prince George’s 320,000 registered Democrats vote Tuesday. The county, which is more than 65 percent black, accounts for a large part the Democratic Party’s overwhelming advantage in voter registration.

Mr. Steele yesterday received an endorsement from several religious leaders, including Harry Jackson a Democrat and bishop of the Hope Christian Church, a charismatic ministry in Lanham with about 2,000 members.

In Annapolis, Mr. Steele announced a 10-point election promise that included pledges to improve health care among minorities, introduce legislation to stop disparities in criminal-sentencing guidelines for blacks and to support increased aid to African and Caribbean countries.

Mr. Steele ended his day by campaigning with Mr. Curry in Greenbelt.

Mr. Cardin attended an afternoon rally in Bethesda with TV star Michael J. Fox to call for embryonic stem-cell research, then one in Baltimore with former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, the 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, the Democratic nominee for governor, also attended the Edwards rally, during the second day of his six-day, statewide bus tour.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican running for re-election, voted by absentee ballot in Glen Burnie, Md., and will today campaign at several stops, all in Baltimore County.

Mr. Ehrlich has cut Mr. O’Malley’s double-digit lead to one point, according to poll released this week that was conducted for the Baltimore Sun. The poll, by Potomac Inc., showed Mr. O’Malley leading Mr. Ehrlich 47 percent to 46 percent with five percent undecided.

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