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Governor's Visit to Include Town Hall Meeting

By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 13, 2005; Page PG02

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) is coming to Prince George's County today to tout his administration's accomplishments and to talk to Prince George's residents about their concerns.

Ehrlich will first meet with the County Council during a special session this afternoon. Then he will hold a town hall meeting in the Rennie Forum at Prince George's Community College in Largo. The meeting, which will include a question-and-answer period, is scheduled to run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. and is hosted by the Greater Prince George's Business Roundtable.

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Full Report

"I'm sure with the election coming up, he wants to look like he's touching base," said council member David Harrington (D-Bladensburg). "I think it's good."

With less than two years before the next election for governor, Prince George's is shaping up to be a key stop on the trail for the potential Democratic gubernatorial contenders.

Nearly two-thirds of the state's registered Democrats live in four jurisdictions: Prince George's, Montgomery and Baltimore counties, and Baltimore city. And Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, considered the two strongest likely Democratic candidates in 2006, are secure in their home bases.

So that pretty much leaves Prince George's, which has more Democrats than any other jurisdiction in the state, up for grabs.

Duncan and O'Malley have both spent time in Prince George's in recent months. Duncan has stopped at more than a few churches. O'Malley recently attended a fundraiser for Del. Obie Patterson (D-Fort Washington).

Ehrlich is trying to use his office as a way to connect with residents.

Wayne Clarke, a lobbyist who is helping to organize the Ehrlich visit, said that the governor wants to discuss "things that have been done for the county and things that are in motion."

Does things "in motion" include trying to bring slot machines to Rosecroft Raceway and National Harbor?

"I imagine it will come up," Clarke said with a chuckle.

But mainly, Clarke said, the meeting is "an effort for him to get directly in touch with the residents of Prince George's County."

Unveiling, Take 2

On his right was Sen. Ulysses Currie (D-Forestville). Behind him was County Council Vice Chairman Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel). To his left was Del. Obie Patterson (D-Fort Washington).

County Executive Jack B. Johnson stood center stage.

What a difference a year makes.

Last year, many elected officials were left scurrying to attend Johnson's unveiling of his 2004 legislative agenda. Johnson had scheduled the event on a Tuesday, during the time that the County Council was in session. Council members were invited to the news conference, held at an elementary school in Mitchellville, the night before.

This year, Johnson appeared with about two dozen elected officials (federal, county and local) surrounding him as he outlined his plans for the General Assembly session.

"One thing constituents tell me is that they want us to be united," Johnson said. "They want us to work together. . . . We're going to be one team united behind common themes."

Those themes, from the look of the agenda, consist of asking for money. More money for schools, more money for Prince George's Hospital Center and more money for transportation.

Sen. Gloria G. Lawlah (D-Hillcrest Heights) praised Johnson for bringing the delegation together. She also lavished praise on schools chief Andre J. Hornsby, who was in attendance as well, for the work he has done in the school system.

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