- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

Former President Bill Clinton, the biggest Democratic political star, will come to Maryland next week to campaign for the gubernatorial and the U.S. Senate candidates.

“It shows the national importance of Maryland,” said Terry Lierman, chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party.

Mr. Clinton will appear with Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, the Democratic Senate nominee, at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Thursday at 2:30 p.m., the state party said.

“They’re bringing in some star power because they’re lacking it,” said Audra Miller, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Republican Party.

Mr. Cardin is running against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a black Republican who is making inroads with black voters.

Mr. Clinton, who was dubbed the “first black president” by black novelist Toni Morrison, also will appear with Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, in Potomac at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.

“It will be a tremendous boost to the campaign to have President Clinton here,” said O’Malley campaign spokesman Rick Abbruzzese. “It will certainly energize the Democratic base in Maryland and help with get-out-the-vote efforts.”

Maryland Democrats already have brought in some big stars to Maryland to help Mr. Cardin and Mr. O’Malley, though none rival Mr. Clinton.

Ms. Miller said that “having to import national politicians just shows the weakness of Ben Cardin as a candidate.”

Mr. Clinton’s wife and former first lady, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois appeared in College Park two weeks ago.

Mrs. Clinton is considered a likely front-runner for the Democratic presidential nominee in 2008, and Mr. Obama, the fifth black senator in the country’s history, is a rising star who some say could run for president in 2008 or be a vice-presidential candidate.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has spent $1 million to run attack ads against Mr. Steele, who was dubbed a “unique threat” by a Democratic pollster last spring.

Meanwhile, cracks recently have appeared in Democratic unity over the lack of black candidates on the party’s ticket.

Maryland’s 10 black state senators, all Democrats, met with Mr. Cardin and Mr. O’Malley two weeks ago to register their displeasure that the party’s candidates for the top statewide seats — the Senate, governor, attorney general and comptroller — are all white. Mr. O’Malley’s running mate, Delegate Anthony G. Brown of Prince George’s County, is black.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean also said last week that “there should be more diversity” on the Maryland Democratic ticket.

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