- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2006

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Maryland’s close campaigns for governor and U.S. Senate last night tapped the star power of former President Bill Clinton and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to rally supporters before Election Day tomorrow.

“We need governors who are tough and understand the value of first-responders and police,” said Mr. Giuliani before a group of Maryland first-responders assembled in Glenn Dale to honor Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. “Bob Ehrlich understands that better than anybody.” Mr. Giuliani, who as mayor of New York City become a symbol of strength and resolve during and after the September 11 attacks, said that governors today are under the constant threat of terrorism.

“We know we have to take down [terrorists] because those folks are bent on our destruction,” Mr. Ehrlich said.

Mr. Giuliani also credited Mr. Ehrlich for Maryland’s financial turnaround.

Mr. Ehrlich inherited a $4 million deficit that he turned into a $2 billion surplus over four years.

Mr. Giuliani, a Republican and potential 2008 presidential candidate, also was at a rally with Mr. Ehrlich the Sunday before the 2002 election that Mr. Ehrlich won.

Mr. Clinton headlined an evening Democratic rally in Upper Marlboro for Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley’s gubernatorial run and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin’s campaign for U.S. Senate. It was the second time in three weeks Mr. Clinton campaigned for the Maryland Democrats.

“I came back to Maryland because you’ve been good to me. You voted for me twice,” Mr. Clinton said to about 1,500 people in an Upper Marlboro ballroom, many of them screaming women.

“It’s not like you shouldn’t be enthusiastic about these people,” Mr. Clinton said. “It’s really come down to whether you want it bad enough.”

Mr. Clinton also is appearing in a commercial for Mr. O’Malley that began airing Saturday. He made a commercial for just one other race, according to the O’Malley campaign.

Mr. O’Malley will bring in more star power today, in the form of former Vice President Al Gore, the 2000 Democratic nominee for president, at a rally in Aspen Hill.

The Clinton and the Giuliani events took place in Prince George’s County, a heavily populated and majority-black jurisdiction that has become a battleground in the Senate and governor’s races.

Polls show both contests in dead heats.

The visit by Mr. Giuliani also was his second trip to Maryland this election season. He campaigned in August with Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, the Republican nominee for senator, who also is the first black elected statewide in Maryland.

Mr. Steele and Mr. Ehrlich have forged Republican inroads into black communities. They have helped make their party competitive statewide for the first time in more than 30 years in Maryland, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-to-1.

Blacks make up nearly 30 percent of the state’s population, and as a bloc they can have the power to determine the outcome of statewide races.

Black-voter loyalty to Democrats kept the party in power for a generation before Mr. Ehrlich’s 2002 election victory.

Still, the Republicans must fight to win over black voters in Baltimore and Prince George’s County, two of the state’s most populous and heavily Democratic jurisdictions that are also more than 65 percent black.

All the candidates spent yesterday wooing voters in the state’s most heavily populated counties.

Mr. Ehrlich attended morning services at two Prince George’s churches — First Baptist of Glenarden and Ark of Safety in Upper Marlboro. He then rallied volunteers at a phone-bank operation in Prince George’s County before the ceremony with Mr. Giuliani.

Mr. O’Malley visited Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, a mostly black congregation in Fort Washington with more than 12,000 members. He also campaigned door-to-door in Bowie, participated in a candidate forum at a synagogue in Potomac and attended Mass at Baltimore’s Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

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