Maryland GOP Predicts Bush Will Carry State
By Ryan Spass
Capital News Service
Monday, Aug. 30, 2004
NEW YORK - Even though Maryland is widely
considered a safe state for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry,
Maryland Republicans are conceding nothing and say they believe the
president will win the state come November.
"Maryland will go for George Bush," James Pelura, chairman for the
Maryland Campaign for Bush, told Maryland delegates to the Republican
National Convention Monday, the opening day of the four-day event.
But that doesn't mean the top of the ticket is going to spend a lot of
time in the state, he said. Neither Bush nor Vice President Dick Cheney is
expected to campaign in Maryland, Pelura said.
Pelura, who is also an alternate at-large delegate for the convention,
said his party would not be upset if the president did not visit Maryland
because there are other important states on which Bush needs to focus.
"Politics means you have to concentrate a campaign on states that will
give you the most reward," Pelura said. "We understand in Maryland if the
president elects not to campaign in Maryland - there are other states that
are battleground states."
Both Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards, are expected to
campaign in Maryland before the November election, state campaign officials
"The Kerry campaign is spending a lot of money in Montgomery County,"
Pelura said in an earlier phone interview. "That says to me that they're not
getting their message across. Candidates usually don't campaign in a state
they usually have in their corner."
But Wayne Rogers, chairman of the Maryland Campaign for Kerry called
Pelura's contention "total nonsense."
"(Kerry) takes no state for granted and he wants to campaign in every
state in the country," Rogers said. "And he's going to try and get to every
state he can."
John Kane, Maryland Republican Party chairman, told delegates Monday that
he agreed with Pelura, but cautioned that Maryland can't be written off
"We're in play, but we're just not as much in play as six other states,"
Maryland's 10 electoral votes stack up well against some highly contested
states like Arizona (10), Minnesota (10), Iowa (7), Missouri (11), Wisconsin
(10) and North Carolina (15). Still, states like Florida (27), Ohio (20) and
Pennsylvania (21), will be the most heavily courted areas this fall.
While Pelura does not anticipate Bush stopping in Maryland before the
election, the president has visited Pennsylvania 32 times since taking
office, including a visit to Ridley Park, Pa., on Aug. 17.
Likewise, Kerry has frequented the Keystone State. Among other trips to
Pennsylvania, Kerry announced his selection of John Edwards for vice
president in Pittsburgh and campaigned in Scranton, Pa., on July 30, his
first stop as the Democratic presidential nominee. He has stopped in
Pennsylvania 15 times since unofficially wrapping up the nomination on March
Democrat Al Gore won Pennsylvania by four percentage points in 2000, and
recent polls suggest it will be a tight race there again. Gore beat Bush by
more than 300,000 votes in Maryland in 2000, earning 57 percent to Bush's 40
But Pelura is confident that Bush will win Maryland this time around,
citing poll data that shows Bush within five points of Kerry. However, in a
SurveyUSA poll conducted between Aug. 23 and Aug. 25, 53 percent of Maryland
voters favor Kerry, while 42 percent favor Bush, with a 4.1 percent margin
The last time Maryland voted for a GOP presidential candidate was in
1988, when George H.W. Bush won 51.1 percent of the vote to defeat Michael
Dukakis, with 48.2 percent, by fewer than 50,000 votes.
James G. Gimpel, professor of government and politics at the University
of Maryland, said it's important for the candidates to visit the
battleground states, but campaigning doesn't matter in states that are
overwhelmingly Democrat or Republican.
"Let's face it - Maryland is a hopelessly lopsided blue state and it
makes no sense for Bush to visit," he said.
Gore stopped in College Park in August 2000. Following the 2000
convention, he campaigned in Hollywood, Md., to discuss his concern over
high gas prices. Gimpel said those trips did not have an impact on voters,
as Gore had secured Maryland before setting foot in the state. Neither Bush
nor Cheney visited Maryland during the 2000 campaign.
2004 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
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