Diana is a middle school teacher in her 30s living in Maryland. She is passionate about two things: her students and her Baltimore Ravens.
After Martin O'Malley was elected governor, Diana moved back home because costs were escalating to a point where she could no longer afford to live independently. She hasn't moved out because her surviving parent is worried about job security and paying household expenses.
Diana can't wait for Election Day. She is voting for O'Malley's opponent, former Gov. Robert Ehrlich.
Mike and Maria, parents of two small children, bought their first home in Baltimore in 1992. It's not big enough for a family, so when their two children came along, they moved to the suburbs. They kept the home with hopes of using it to help fund their daughters' education. But as a result of O'Malley's taxes, first as mayor and then as governor, the house has become an expense they can't afford, especially with Maria out of work.
Like Diana, come Nov. 2, they will be voting for Ehrlich.
During a debate yesterday sponsored by The Washington Post, Ehrlich hammered O'Malley on how Maryland is "tax hell" for businesses. The same could be said for individuals, as Diana, Mike, and Maria would attest. O'Malley offered very little in the way of a substantive rebuttal. During the entire 60 minute debate, O'Malley was so "on message" and scripted that when asked a softball question about his favorite song, he passed.
Ehrlich also argued O'Malley wasn't being honest with voters about how the state would fund in the coming years a much needed Purple Line connecting Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the two suburban areas closest to Washington, D.C. While personally I don't like Ehrlich's plan of buses, as opposed to trains, I recognize buses cost less and in these trying times, we all need to share in the sacrifice. Ehrlich was honest about this.
O'Malley, however, evaded the questions on how he'd pay for it. He eventually said he thought it would cost less in the long run. But Marylanders can't afford to spend more money on the expectations of political leaders. When the average voter is reevaluating everything from date night to cell phone plans, spending money based on future expectations is a gamble no one can take.
O'Malley is a politician of convenience. He can argue he's against the death penalty because his Catholic faith teaches him it's wrong. But he is pro-choice because he doesn't want to impose his beliefs on others. As it's been noted in this blog before, you can't have it both ways.
Ehrlich rightly called him out on his use of the term "new American" to describe illegal immigrants. The best line of the debate was when Ehrlich asked if someone broke into his house in the middle of the night, would this person be a new member of the family?
"New American" sanitizes the criminal activity. Immigration reform is a tricky issue and both federal and state officials need to work to fix the problem. Catch phrases meant to appeal to a dejected base aren't going to do it. Not to mention, just as it's against the law to break into a home, it's also against the law to enter this country illegally.
Full disclosure, I interned in Ehrlich's congressional office during the summer of 1998. A few years later, O'Malley was oblivious to me when I was in front of him at an Irish Music Festival in Baltimore. He went to the stage, and en route pushed me aside, knocking me to the ground. While I am certain it wasn't intentional, it illustrates perfectly how he was and is more concerned about advancing Martin O'Malley than he is for the people around him.
Ehrlich's recommendations for getting the state out of this recession aren't pleasant, but at least he offers real solutions. O'Malley is nothing more than an empty shirt with Ken doll hair.