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Misleading GOP Handouts Called a Political 'Low Point'

Erik Markle, wearing an Ehrlich campaign T-shirt and talking to voters in District Heights, said he was recruited at a Philadelphia homeless shelter and bused to Maryland to hand out fliers.
Erik Markle, wearing an Ehrlich campaign T-shirt and talking to voters in District Heights, said he was recruited at a Philadelphia homeless shelter and bused to Maryland to hand out fliers. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)

Curry had endorsed Steele; he had not endorsed Ehrlich.

"It's a low point in Maryland politics," said Terry Lierman, chairman of the state Democratic Party. Lierman said he plans to contact the state attorney general's office to see whether any rules or laws were broken.

In 2002, Ehrlich's campaign was investigated for recruiting workers -- some from homeless shelters in the District -- to hand out literature at polling places under a statute that prohibited campaign workers from hiring people to work on Election Day.

The statute was overturned in 2003, however, after Towson attorney Larry Nathans argued successfully that the law was an infringement on his client's right to free speech.

Black voter turnout was seen as crucial in the contests for governor and Senate, and Steele's campaign received a boost last week when several black Democratic leaders crossed party lines to endorse his candidacy. Steele, the state's African American lieutenant governor, is a Prince George's resident.

One voter in the county, Ruth Clopp, who got one of the sample ballots in Hyattsville yesterday, said most voters got a "good laugh" out of them while they waited in line.

But State Sen. Lisa A. Gladden (D-Baltimore), who was featured in a Baltimore version of the voter guide, said she was offended. "It is not illegal, but it is offensive," she said.

Several groups not affiliated with any campaign also focused yesterday on getting black voters to the polls. One effort resulted in a group of Steele supporters getting into a heated argument with voters at a church over campaign literature targeting Cardin.

A mailer, produced by a Bowie woman, urged support for Steele and declared: "Ben Cardin Promises to Attack Jesus Christ, Pastors, Churches and Christians and to Take Away Blacks' Freedom If He Is Elected." The Washington-based National Jewish Democratic Council called the flier "despicable" and "thinly-veiled anti-Semitism" aimed at Cardin, who is Jewish.


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