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Gubernatorial candidates Martin O'Malley, the Democratic mayor of Baltimore, and Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich. (CNS-TV file photos)
Governor's Race: Ehrlich vs. O'Malley on the Issues

By Damon Curry
Maryland Newsline
Monday, Oct. 30, 2006

Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. faces Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, in the Nov. 7 gubernatorial election. Education and crime have figured prominently in their campaigns. Find out where the candidates stand on these issues and more -- and who you are most similar to. Mark the responses below that best match yours. At the end, click on the “get score” button to see what percentage of your responses align with each candidate’s. Then click "party lines" to see at a glance who gave each response. (Ehrlich's will outline in a red border, O'Malley's in a blue.)

    1. In the past, Gov. Robert Ehrlich has pushed for slot machines to raise funds for the state. His attempts were consistently blocked. What do you see as the future of slots in Maryland?
I support slot machines at Marylandís race tracks. ... Legal slot machines at Maryland race tracks would make that same revenue available to Marylandís school construction, help revitalize a once-productive horse industry and save more farms from sale and development. I support limited slot machines, confined to racetracks, to strengthen the economy and keep the 17,000 racing jobs associated with the tracks in Maryland. I will give local communities a strong say in how slots will be implemented in these communities.

    2. Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley had promised to reduce the number of annual homicides in Baltimore to 175, but the number far surpassed that last year, totaling 269. What is your plan to reduce crime in Maryland?
Our public safety strategy [includes] prevention, empowerment of law enforcement and empowerment of citizens and communities so that their neighborhoods are not breeding grounds for criminal activity. I will ... work to stop crime at its roots, with a strong anti-gang initiative and improved drug treatment and counseling for offenders. By both policing our communities better, and providing [rehabilitation] for those in the correctional system, we can strengthen and protect Marylandís families.

    3. Ehrlich pledged an end to parole for violent criminals in his 2002 campaign. An end has not been seen. What is the future of parole for violent criminals?
I will work to give [parole] officers the modern tools they need to properly monitor those released into the community and ensure that we have appropriate treatment and wrap-around services to produce better outcomes. As a general matter I do not support parole for the most violent offenders. There are some people who are simply violent and dangerous, and who will chronically prey on the innocent men, women and children of Maryland if not detained. Rehabilitation has its realistic limits.

    4. Maryland is facing a population influx with the Base Realignment and Closure decisions - with areas around Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade facing big gains. What is your stance on urban sprawl?
I am extremely proud of ... efforts to prepare for the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round that led to successful outcomes and the pending arrival of 40,000 to 60,000 new high-paying jobs for Marylanders. Maryland must make the proper investments now, so when new BRAC-related jobs come to the area, we have the infrastructure in place to handle tens of thousands of additional cars and homes. I believe that we can plan growth intelligently.

    5. Ehrlich has approved two state executions since his election. Do you support a repeal of the death penalty?
No. I will uphold Marylandís current law on capital punishment. No. My support for capital punishment is well known. ... Although I believe capital punishment remains an appropriate sanction for certain heinous murders, I understand and respect the legitimate, deeply held beliefs of those on the other side of this issue.

    6. BGE energy rate increases came under intense scrutiny this summer. What steps will you take to control rising energy costs?
I will remove the current Public Service Commission and appoint real regulators who will have open meetings and take seriously their job to protect our families. I will end the revolving door between the energy industry and the PSC by requiring detailed reports on meetings with energy officials and a mandatory two-year waiting period between working for industry and working for the PSC. In 1999, the General Assembly and Gov. Parris Glendening wrongly assumed future electricity prices would be low and approved a plan to deregulate Marylandís electric utility companies, setting the removal of price caps for the summer of 2006. Because of flaws in the 1999 legislation, the competition never emerged and residential electricity rates across the state skyrocketed.

    7. The passing grade for students in Baltimore City schools was lowered this summer from 70 percent to 60 percent to be in line with most other Maryland school systems. Under your administration, will this change?
Given the troubling performance of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners and the continued failure of the school system, I believe that those board members eligible for removal must be replaced as quickly as possible. The boardís decision to lower expectations for students with such enormous potential is unacceptable. This is [a] decision made by local school boards. I understand why the cityís school board made the decision Ė they wanted Baltimore students to be competing for jobs and college admissions on the same level as all other Maryland students.

    8. Funding to the University System of Maryland was cut $120 million during the first years of Ehrlich's term. Despite recent funding increases, tuition rates have also steadily increased until tuition was capped this year. Will you increase funding for higher education?
I seek to fulfill four specific goals for higher education, including: 1) maintaining access and affordability of Maryland public institutions of higher education; 2) building upon the excellent quality and national prominence of our schools; 3) targeting key workforce development outcomes of our institutions to meet the job market needs of Maryland in the 21st century; and 4) harnessing the economic power that our institutions of higher education represent in the Maryland economy to continue historic statewide economic growth. Yes. Three years of tuition increases forced students and their families to pay nearly 40 percent more for tuition at Marylandís public universities. To help mitigate the ... tuition hikes, [my running mate] and I proposed a tuition stabilization plan in January.

    9. A bill passed by the Maryland Legislature this spring, and then overturned by a federal judge in Baltimore, required organizations with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least 8 percent of their payroll on health benefits or put the money directly into the state's health program for the poor. Do you support this measure, which effectively targeted the giant retailer Wal-Mart?
Yes. I was proud to stand with small businesses and families in support of the Fair Share Health Care law, which would force mega-corporations to pay their fair share for their employeesí health care, rather than dumping the burden on taxpayers and small businesses via Medicaid roles. No. I will not waver in opposing meaningless health reform such as the Wal-Mart bill, pushing for real medical liability reform to reduce frivolous litigation, and addressing the many complicated issues surrounding quality and cost of care for Marylanders in need.

Your match with Gov. Robert Ehrlich is:
Your match with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley is:

Based on e-mail correspondences with the campaigns of Robert Ehrlich and Martin O'Malley. Read an elaboration of their responses.

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Banner graphic by Maryland Newsline's April Chan, incorporating original photos and images provided by Annapolis.gov and Ace-Clipart.com.

Copyright © 2006 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.