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More controversial fliers in Prince George's County ahead of Democratic primary

By Miranda S. Spivack
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 10, 2010; B06

Less than a week before the crowded Democratic primary, fliers labeled "official Democratic" ballot hit more mailboxes in Prince George's County. And many of them are anything but official.

Residents from Greenbelt to Fort Washington reported receiving fliers in the mail Thursday that appear to associate candidates in Tuesday's election with people whom they are not endorsing, despite a judge's order Tuesday banning one set of fliers circulating in the southern part of the county and allowing sheriff's deputies to confiscate them.

David Lange of Greenbelt, a retired Defense Department employee who has lived in Prince George's for 40 years, said he was troubled by a flier he received in the mail this week.

Sent by Progress 2010 -- a slate associated with the campaign of Sheriff Michael Jackson, who is running for county executive -- the flier endorses Sen. Paul G. Pinsky and Dels. Anne Healey, Tawanna P. Gaines and Justin D. Ross, as well as Jackson. But the four Democratic lawmakers are backing former delegate Rushern L. Baker III in the county executive's race, which their fliers show.

"I have never seen anything like this before. It is really outrageous and so contrary to our democratic principles," Lange said. "If they are doing this now, what are the dirty tricks planned for Tuesday?"

Sample ballots in General Assembly District 26, which surfaced last week during early voting at Oxon Hill library and appeared to have been mailed to hundreds of likely Democratic voters, showed Sen. C. Anthony Muse on a ticket with County Council member Samuel H. Dean (Mitchellville), who is running for county executive. But Muse is backing Baker. Those fliers were produced by a group that was not registered with the state, providing Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler legal grounds to seek their removal.

Also running for county executive are Del. Gerron S. Levi and businessman Henry C. Turner Jr..

Another sample Democratic primary ballot, also labeled "official," is being circulated by a group known as County 1 Now, which has helped fund the Baker campaign. That flier also shows support for Angela Alsobrooks for state's attorney and state Sen. Ulysses Currie. But Currie is backing state's attorney candidate Thomas E. Dernoga, as are four other state senators.

Dernoga said fliers that include misleading information "should be pulled. I think all of these are inappropriate and invalid."

The sample ballots appearing in the northern part of the county, Greenbelt and University Park appear to have been produced by organizations that have registered with the state, which a Gansler spokeswoman said makes it legally difficult -- but not impossible -- for Gansler to pursue them.

Meanwhile, fliers being circulated by Service Employees International Union's 1199 health-care workers union have drawn the ire of several Prince George's lawmakers who said they are a distasteful attack ad unseen before in the county.

Speaking at a news conference Tuesday, Del. Doyle L. Niemann said the fliers appeared to be "perfectly legal, but they are wrong. . . . Everybody should be upset about this.

"You do it to manipulate and fool people," he said. He showed a check for $1,000 that he said he was returning to the union.

Del. Aisha N. Braveboy also decried the fliers, saying the union was "waging an unprecedented war in Prince George's" and attacking lawmakers who have generally had a pro-labor record. "This is wrong and will not be tolerated," she said.

The fliers from SEIU, which is backing Baker, claims improper spending by state Sen. David C. Harrington and refer to "Sheriff Michael Jackson's Brutal Record."

Pat Lippold, local political director for the union, did not return a call seeking comment.

Baker, meanwhile, picked up endorsements Thursday from former governor Parris N. Glendening and Winfield Kelly, both former Prince George's executives. He is also endorsed by former county executive Wayne K. Curry.

Glendening said he thought the county "has stalled. It seems to have lost its sense of direction. Rushern has a vision of what it can be."

Jack B. Johnson, barred by term limits from seeking another term, has stayed on the sidelines.

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