Maiden Voyage of the 'Insider' Column
Holt sees reason for optimism in early voting numbers ... Ehrlich's doughnut run before coming to Towson, Halethorpe ... Smith, Gardina, McIntire throw big bucks to campaigns.
In case you hadn't noticed, I left the Towson Times to join Patch. It's a different and innovative platform, but as the Baltimore County government and politics editor I promise to deliver the same steady scoops you've come to expect. I hope my loyal audience stays with me. So, let's get started.
Reading the tea leaves: Republican County Executive candidate Ken Holt sees the increased turnout during the most recent early voting period as a reason to be optimistic.
"As I look at the numbers in the early voting, I see an increase in the Democratic turnout," Holt said on the Halloween night edition of Jay Liner's "All Politics is Local," a radio show I co-host with Liner and Al Forman of Investigativevoice.com. "I think that it's a reflection of Democrats that are voting Republican. It happened in 2002, the Democratic turnout effectively for the general election was about 63 percent. That was a strong performance year for Bob Ehrlich. It fell off in '06, I think it's resurgent now in 2010."
Mmm, doughnuts: Ehrlich will be taking his campaign on one last swing today, stopping first at a Krispy Kreme in Rockville later this morning before heading off to Towson where he'll stop in shops near the Towson Circle around 2:30 p.m. The "Ehrlich-again-in-2010" tour makes it's final appearance before Election Day at the Dewey Loman American Legion Hall in Halethorpe—the same place where Ehrlich kicked off his bid to return to the governor's mansion earlier this year.
State Comptroller Peter Franchot made a similar visit to shops in the Towson area Saturday. It would have been Franchot's second campaign visit to Towson in a week. The comptroller was scheduled to campaign door-to-door in Rodgers Forge with Democratic Del. Steve Lafferty last Wednesday but that visit was cancelled because of a tornado warning.
Happy Birthday shout-outs to newlywed Erika Jones Sealing, 26, formerly of the county's government relations arm who is now with Gov. Martin O'Malley's office of correspondence and constituent services. And Robert Flanagan, 65. The Republican former delegate is hoping for a belated present tomorrow as he seeks the 1st District Council seat in neighboring Howard County.
Seventy-four percent: You may have noticed signs popping up around the county that simply say "74%." The signs are part of an 11th hour multimedia push by Holt—a criticism of pension and salary increases Holt says his Democratic opponent Kevin Kamenetz voted for himself.
The signs go along with a television commercial in limited rotation over the last few days that features a clip of Kamenetz telling an audience in Perry Hall that there would be no tax cuts in the immediate future. The commercial is also on Holt's YouTube page.
Thanks: Kamenetz wraps up his campaign with two sign-waving events. The first was at the intersection of Liberty Road and Washington Avenue in Randallstown during rush hour this morning. Kamenetz will be at the intersection of Old Court Road and Park Heights Avenue at 4:30 p.m.
Kamenetz has represented both areas during his 16 years on the council.
Both areas were also key to Kamenetz winning the Democratic primary and will likely be important if he is to win the general election tomorrow.
Send money: Just because you're not running in the general election doesn't mean you can't still be helpful. Outgoing County Executive Jim Smith and retiring Councilman Vince Gardina, both Democrats, and defeated Republican Councilman Bryan McIntire have each spent hundreds of thousands supporting candidates of their choice. I discuss the trend here with WBAL 1090 AM with Maryland Morning News anchor Bill Vanko. Essentially, Smith gave $300,000 to an account that is splitting the money among several Democratic County Council candidates. Gardina transferred about 80 percent of $200,000 he has left into an account that goes to Kamenetz's campaign.
Good luck, Bob: Bob Barrett, a senior staff member to two county executives, ended his time as director of Recreation and Parks on Friday. He starts his new position as a senior advisor to county schools Superintendent Joe Hairston today.
In case you missed it: Some of the county's state legislators say they'll go to Annapolis in January (if re-elected, of course) and look for new ways to hold county schools system officials accountable after Hairston declined to answer questions from the state attorney general's office about a controversial grading system.
Finally, here's an election eve laugh courtesy of Saturday Night Live and Jason Sudeikis who reprises his Vice President Joe Biden character. The faux-veep wants to remind you that things could be worse: you could be trapped in a mine.