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At Steele Rally, All Is Not Quite What It Appears

By Matthew Mosk and John Wagner
Sunday, September 24, 2006

U.S. Senate candidate Michael S. Steele got an endorsement last week from a guy named Mfume . It came at a rally of Democrats for Steele in Baltimore, where Steele supporters waved signs and grabbed bumper stickers that said "Steele Democrat."

No Democrats who are elected officials in Maryland showed up, and afterward they said the entire event was meant to confuse voters.

The Mfume endorsement? It came not from the former Democratic candidate for the seat Kweisi Mfume but from his son Michael . And those signs? Well, Steele is no Democrat.

He's the Republican candidate and has served as chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, a member of the Republican National Committee and a booster for President Bush . He even spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2004. In prime time.

So what gives?

Steele campaign spokesman Doug Heye said there was no intent to confuse anyone, merely to show that the lieutenant governor has broad support in Maryland (a state where Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans on the voter rolls).

The signs were "for people who are Steele Democrats, so they can put that out there in their store window or in their front yard," Heye said.

The Steele Democrat signs should be read as if they said "Reagan Democrat," Steele supporters explained.

But that explanation didn't satisfy Democrats, including Steele's opponent, U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin .

"We expect Michael Steele to pretend to be a Democrat, but let's get real," said Oren Shur , Cardin's spokesman. "Marylanders won't be fooled by flashy ads and misleading campaign signs."

State Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman chimed in with his own statement: "Steele's new logo is the biggest election fraud perpetrated on the voters of Maryland in this campaign to date -- and proves that Steele thinks his only chance is political identity theft."

Maryland Republican Party Chairman John Kane seized on the accusation of "identity theft," citing a case in which a Democratic researcher misrepresented herself as Steele on a Web site last year to gain access to his credit report.

"Terry should probably think a bit more before he speaks," Kane said. "Seeing how one of his establishment allies' researchers has already pled guilty in federal court to stealing the identity of Lieutenant Governor Steele, Terry's flippant and callous comments . . . are stunning. These guys know no shame, and their integrity is seriously lacking. It's clear that the Maryland Democratic Party takes breaking the law lightly if it helps them achieve their goal."

'Landslide Wynn' Calls a Win a Win

As the prolonged primary vote count wound down in the 4th Congressional District race last week, incumbent U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D) seemed to grow increasingly confident that he would be headed back to Washington next year.

Here's an exchange Wynn had at a House committee hearing with Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) about the close contest with challenger Donna Edwards :

Barton: Down in Texas, we had a Democratic primary about 50 years ago that Lyndon Johnson won by 54 votes. And he got the nickname "Landslide Lyndon." We have Mr. Wynn next. He had a little bit of a tussle last week, but he did win. And so, I want to recognize "Landslide Wynn" for any opening statement that he wishes . . .

Wynn: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. In fact, they're still counting, but we're quite optimistic. And I did take a couple pages out of Lyndon's book, so if I win, it can be attributed to Texas know-how.

(LAUGHTER)

Barton: I hope not. I hope you win fair and square.

(LAUGHTER)

Wynn: A win is a win.

And How Much for an Ehrlich Jersey?

If you're looking for a regulation-size NFL football, they're available online for as little as $14.99 (including free shipping). Or you can pay $500 and get one from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr .'s reelection campaign.

That's right. "Along with your generous contribution of $500 or more, we will be happy to send you a regulation-sized NFL football," reads a fundraising solicitation sent out last week by Ehrlich (R).

But that's not all. "This won't be just any football," the solicitation says. "It will be a token of appreciation from our campaign, thanking you for your generous support at this crucial time. . . . And as a token of appreciation, this football from our campaign will be personally signed by Governor Ehrlich, Maryland's #1 football fan."

A Circumspect State's Attorney

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy have had their share of differences in recent years, including an occasion early in O'Malley's tenure when he publicly lashed out at Jessamy for dropping charges in a police corruption case.

It surprised few when Jessamy (D) chose to support O'Malley's rival, Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan , in the Democratic primary for governor. Jessamy is being more circumspect now about where her loyalties lie in the general election against Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

"I will vote, but I'm not going to be an active participant" in the race, Jessamy said in an interview last week.

And for whom will she vote?

She would not say.

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