WaPo sees the future

If you read the Washington Post this morning, you’d have thought that the 2010 Gubernatorial Election is over and that we lost:

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley began last year at the nadir of his popularity, having just raised taxes. At year’s end, he was weighing deep budget cuts likely to strain relations with key constituencies.

But along the way, O’Malley managed to rack up several political victories, in Maryland and beyond its borders, that appear to strengthen his hand heading into a widely expected reelection bid next year.

By substantial margins, Maryland voters approved two ballot measures in November backed by the governor, one legalizing five slot machine gambling sites and the other authorizing early voting in the next election. Voters’ rejection of slots would have been a significant setback for O’Malley (D), and early voting should disproportionately help Democrats in a state where they enjoy a 2-to-1 advantage in party registration.

Both ballot measures were opposed by former governor and current radio host Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), whose boosters would like to see a 2010 rematch with O’Malley.

The story also goes on to (rightly) note that O’Malley was bolstered by Frank Kratovil’s election in the First District, something that also was bound to hurt Governor Ehrlich due to his ill-conceived strong embrace of Andy Harris.

Be that as it may, I think that it’s hard to say that all of these things point to Martin O’Malley winning or losing in 2010:

  • The slot machine question had little to do with the battle between O’Malley and Ehrlich. Yes, both men had their opinions and were in respective corners for the battle, bat it was hardy a matter of Democrats vs Republicans when you considered Peter Franchot’s role in the anti-slots campaign, as well as the fierce opposition to slots by a number of liberal legislators and far left interest groups. Using the Post’s logic, the defeat of slots could just as much be a repudiation of the far left as it is a leg up for O’Malley.
  • Continuing with the similar theme, the overwhelming passage of Question 2 hardly counts for anything. There was very little, if any, organized campaigning for or against early voting, and quite frankly I think there wasn’t much oxygen left for the issue to breath once you got passed slots and the Presidential election.
  • With Kratovil, it’s hard to say that his election will have any impact whatsoever on O’Malley. I think I have detailed my thoughts about the abominable campaign Harris ran enough, but when you consider this perfect storm, how does any of this help O’Malley in 2010?:
    • A young Democratic Candidate who was easily packaged as a moderate; and
    • Wayne Gilchrest’s defeat in the Republican Primary; by
    • The worst possible Republican candidate (Western Shore, very unlikeable) who ran a historically bad campaign; with
    • Higher African-American turnout on the lower shore due to Obama.

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At the same time, we still have an economy that is in free fall, partially due to the national recession and partially due to O’Malley’s reckless and irresponsible spending and tax increases. And O’Malley and Company are still going to have to deal with that starting next week, and they are either going to wind up angering their rabid base through cutting spending, or angering everybody else in the state with even more tax hikes.

O’Malley had a reasonably successful 2008 at the Ballot Box, but projecting his victory in 2010 would be like predicting Maryland winning the ACC title in 2009 due to their Humanitarian Bowl win; completely meaningless and based on false premises.

I still think O’Malley is in trouble for re-election, whether or not he is primaried by Peter Franchot…


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