Gov. Debate: Anybody Ever Heard of the Shore?
The Monday, 10/11/10 televised debate between incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) and former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) was notable in its near exclusion of anything specific and relevant to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. But then, we are all too familiar with our Annapolis politicians ignoring the Shore, especially our neck of the woods on the Upper Shore.
So the final tally of the one hour debate, broadcast on WJZ-TV (Channel 13) and co-sponsored with the Baltimore Jewish Council, was O’Malley’s two references to the importance of the Chesapeake Bay and one negative reference by Ehrlich to campaign contributions to his opponent from the owners of the new slots facility in Cecil County.
Not exactly inspiring to local residents who might have longed to hear about our higher than state average unemployment figures, specific job creation and economic development strategies targeted to rural areas and job training education initiatives geared toward rural areas where only a tiny minority of students go on to a four year college.
A few minutes into the debate, O’Malley said he was proud to have “taken the steps” needed to “improve the health of the Bay.” And shortly thereafter, he said he would “make no apologies for standing up to polluters… and protecting the health of our Bay.”
It took about another 55 minutes before Ehrlich said anything specific to the Shore, and that was when he attacked O’Malley for having received $16,000 in campaign contributions from the “only operating casino” in the state.
A Cecil Times check of state Board of Elections campaign finance records shows that Penn National Gaming, of Reading, PA—the operator of the newly opened Hollywood Casino slots parlor in Perryville, in Cecil County– has donated to O’Malley’s campaign committee and his candidate “slate,” both directly as a business and through its Political Action Committee.
Penn National Gaming, Inc. gave $4,000 to O’Malley’s campaign committee and another $4,000 to the O’Malley/Brown “slate” while the Penn National Gaming PAC gave $4,000 to the O’Malley campaign committee and another $4,000 to the “slate.” The total of $16,000 in donations was all dated August 10, 2010.
At one point, Ehrlich asserted, “We brought BRAC here,” referring to the federal government’s decision to re-locate certain military operations from Fort Monmouth in New Jersey to Maryland, at Fort Meade in Prince George’s County and at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County. Those decisions, by the federal Base Re-Alignment and Closings panel of the Defense Department, are totally unrelated to any decisions by the state government.
Cecil County is expected to benefit from the jobs created in nearby Harford County and Cecil County is trying to lure new residents, and BRAC-related contractors and businesses, to the county on the Upper Shore.
For most of the hour-long debate, O’Malley and Ehrlich sparred over education, taxes and jobs, without mentioning specific initiatives or proposals to assist rural areas or the Shore.
Ehrlich has been focusing much of his campaign on Montgomery County, with its huge population and especially large number of independent voters. O’Malley recently visited Cecil County for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Hollywood Casino.