- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 21, 2006

BALTIMORE — Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. yesterday rallied in Baltimore County with Democratic lawmakers and officials who endorse the Republican’s re-election bid, as Democratic leaders urged voters in the city to defeat the governor even if they “don’t care for” the party’s candidate to replace him.

“I have represented majority-Democratic districts for all of my entire career,” Mr. Ehrlich said, standing on a truck bed in a Dundalk parking lot before about 100 supporters.

“Many, many Democrats are stepping up … not leaving their party, just voting for the person they believe will lead the state,” the governor and former congressman from Baltimore County said.

An hour earlier, in the city’s Remington area, black Democratic leaders attacked Mr. Ehrlich while denigrating his Democratic challenger, Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley.

“Having spent four years in Annapolis with Governor Ehrlich, the boy’s gotta go,” state Sen. Lisa A. Gladden, Baltimore Democrat, told the crowd of about 100 at a meeting called to organize volunteers to go door to door with information on voters’ rights.

Mrs. Gladden said she supports Mr. O’Malley’s bid for governor only because it would help his fellow Democrats regain power.

“I have never voted for Martin O’Malley, never in my life, because I don’t care for him,” she said. “But you know what, I’m wearing his shirt, got his sign on the lawn, and quite frankly, I hope to God and I pray every day that O’Malley becomes our next governor.”

Democrats control the Maryland legislature, and Mr. Ehrlich, who faces voters again two weeks from Tuesday, won election four years ago as the first Republican governor in more than 30 years.

Cheryl D. Glenn and Shawn Tarrant — Democrats who won primary races for state delegate and are likely to be elected Nov. 7 — also urged the crowd to vote for Mr. O’Malley, despite objections or reservations about his record in Baltimore.

“I know politics better than you do. Support O’Malley,” Mrs. Glenn, a candidate in District 45, told the audience packed into a storefront room.

Mr. Tarrant, a community activist and regional manager for a pharmaceutical company, instructed the crowd not to “focus on the man,” meaning Mr. O’Malley.

“Focus on the seat,” said Mr. Tarrant, who likely will represent District 40. “We need the right Democrat in the seat. He can make the right selections.”

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Baltimore Democrat, organized the voter-education drive because, he said, many voters are confused and discouraged by officials’ concerns about organization and security for the election.

Mr. Ehrlich echoed those concerns yesterday during a radio interview, predicting “a lot of challenges” and “a lot of lawyers” after the election.

The governor again will have to win over Democratic and independent voters in Maryland, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 and where blacks made up about 40 percent of Democratic voters in the primary.

The Ehrlich campaign released a list of 26 Democratic supporters, most of them former officeholders and some of whom previously had endorsed his re-election. Most of the Democrats for Mr. Ehrlich endorsed him four years ago.

“I am a Democrat, and I support the whole Democratic team except for one individual … that guy they call mayor,” Baltimore City Council member Nicholas D’Adamo Jr. said. “Are the streets in better shape? Is the murder rate better? Is education any better?”

The crowd that heard Mr. Ehrlich in Dundalk was made up mostly of older, white voters. The crowd at the anti-Ehrlich rally in the city was mostly black voters.

Mr. Ehrlich, who said polls show he is doing well among black voters, cited his support for Coppin State University, a predominantly black college in Baltimore.

Calvin Burnett, the former president of Coppin whom Mr. Ehrlich appointed as education secretary in 2004, stood with the governor at the rally.

O’Malley spokesman Rick Abbruzzese predicted that Mr. Ehrlich will not attract enough Democrats.

“Democrats believe that government can work to improve the quality of life for all people, which does not mean siding with special corporate interests over working families, as Governor Ehrlich has done time and again,” he said.

Mr. O’Malley leads Mr. Ehrlich in almost every poll in the race by an average of about seven points.

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