Correction to This Article
Earlier versions of this story said that U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D) had defeated challenger Donna Edwards. However, because the race is so close and there are an undetermined number of ballots still to be counted, it is not yet clear who will win the election.

A New Day for Democrats

The day after winning the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, Douglas F. Gansler relaxes at home with his 9-year-old son, Will.
The day after winning the Democratic nomination for state attorney general, Douglas F. Gansler relaxes at home with his 9-year-old son, Will. (Kevin Clark / Twp)
By Robert Barnes and John Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 14, 2006

Maryland voters on Tuesday endorsed a generational change of political leaders, setting up the most competitive statewide campaigns in decades and defining a new role for the Washington suburbs in the state's politics.

Maryland Democrats for the first time nominated two Montgomery County politicians for statewide office -- State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler for attorney general and Del. Peter Franchot for comptroller. No one from Montgomery has been elected on his own to statewide office since 1919.

On a day when 84-year-old Comptroller William Donald Schaefer acknowledged his exit from the public stage, the Democrats' new team assembled in Baltimore. Franchot and Gansler held a "unity" rally with Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, the party's nominee for governor; O'Malley's running mate, Del. Anthony G. Brown of Prince George's; and U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Baltimore County, who won the U.S. Senate nomination over former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume.

They immediately went to work characterizing their ticket as aligned with working families and trying to associate their opponents with an unpopular president not on the ballot.

"This campaign is about holding George Bush accountable," Cardin said, listing issues on which he and the president differ, including the Iraq war and stem cell research.

O'Malley added, "There are few governors in this country who are more in lock step with President Bush than Bob Ehrlich." He said they both have a "not-on-the-side-of-
working-people philosophy."

While Democrats stressed the geographic diversity of the ticket, drawn from the state's four most populous jurisdictions, the Republican ticket is more of a rainbow -- varied by race, gender and geography. African American Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele officially picked up the Senate nomination; Anne M. McCarthy of Baltimore won a four-way race for the comptroller nomination; and the nominee for attorney general, Frederick County State's Attorney Scott L. Rolle, represents that fast-growing part of the state. The ticket is headed by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and his new running mate, Kristin Cox, who is secretary of the state Department of Disabilities and is legally blind.

Ehrlich had no campaign events yesterday, but in a letter sent to supporters on primary day, the governor sought to frame his race as one about his and O'Malley's respective records.

"Under NO circumstances can we allow O'Malley to gain a promotion to Governor based on his record of failure," Ehrlich wrote. "That would be like putting the Captain of the Titanic in charge of the entire Navy!"

Preliminary estimates show that less than a third of Democratic voters and less than a quarter of registered Republicans came out Tuesday.

The voting problems that plagued the state Tuesday led to recriminations and calls for investigations. Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) wrote to Ehrlich asking that the county's top two election officials be fired and that an investigation be launched.

Election officials said they issued 10,000 to 12,000 provisional ballots because voting machines weren't operational Tuesday morning, and those votes will be counted next Monday. The delay could affect several races, including the one between Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D) and challenger Donna Edwards in a district that includes parts of Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Wynn was holding a lead, and Edwards said she wants all the votes counted.

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