Sobhani, independent in Maryland Senate race, makes closing argument
With the U.S. Capitol as backdrop and some campaign posters slapped on a podium, Rob Sobhani delivered the closing statement for his party-crashing campaign in Maryland’s U.S. Senate race.
Two reporters attended.
Sobhani, a Montgomery County businessman who has poured more than $6 million of his own fortune into the race, said Thursday that he believes his campaign has tapped widespread discontent with the two major parties and could inspire more voters to back outsiders like him.
“I started this race a few months ago as an independent because I believe the political system we have today is not working for the American people,” Sobhani said, two days after Hurricane Sandy forced Salisbury University to call off a debate that would have put him on the same stage with Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D) and Republican challenger Daniel Bongino. Sobhani said his campaign would give Marylanders “a real choice.”
Polls suggest, however, that Sobhani’s entry into the race has all but guaranteed that Cardin will coast to victory and the Democratic Party’s hold on the one-party state will stay that much tighter. At least some of Sobhani’s support has come from voters who might otherwise back Bongino, a former Secret Service agent in his first run for office.Continue reading this post »
O’Malley: Same-sex law is in ‘good shape’
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) said Wednesday night that the campaign to uphold Maryland’s same-sex marriage law is in “good shape,” but added that his side needs to continue raising money to get its message out in the final days before the election.
In a conference call with reporters, O’Malley also praised the efforts of actor Brad Pitt, who made headlines Wednesday for pledging $100,000 in matching contributions for ballot measures in Maryland and three other states.
“We have a real shot at prevailing here,” O’Malley said during the call.
Maryland voters will be asked in Question 6 next week if they want to affirm a law legalizing gay nuptials that O’Malley signed in March. Campaigns on both sides of the issue plan big pushes in the remaining days.
A Washington Post poll last month shows likely voters leaning in favor of the measure, 52 percent to 43 percent. Most other polls have showed similar margins, though a Baltimore Sun poll released over the weekend suggested the race is a dead heat.
During the call, O’Malley dismissed that result as an “outlier.”
No state has ever affirmed same-sex marriage at the ballot box. Next week, voters in Washington state and Maine will face similar questions. In Minnesota, voters will be asked whether they want to write a ban on gay unions into the state constitution.
O’Malley said that his side needs to raise about $400,000 in Maryland in coming days to stay on budget in a race where both camps are airing frequent TV ads. A round of disclosure reports due last Friday showed Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the lead campaign group for Question 6, with less than $23,000 in the bank.
The group reported having raised $1.2 million between Oct. 8 and Oct. 21. That came on top of $3.2 million the group previously reported.
The largest contributions in the latest report came from the National Education Association, which gave $300,000; and Paul Singer, a prolific Republican donor who has supported same-sex marriage initiatives around the country. He gave $250,000.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance, the lead group seeking to defeat Question 6, reported raising $846,865 during the most recent two-week period. That’s about the same that it reported having raised up until that point.
The group’s largest reported donation came from the National Organization for Marriage, which gave $400,000.Continue reading this post »
We’ve moved — to the Maryland Politics page
Full Washington Post coverage of Maryland politics can now be found in a new place: the Maryland Politics page.
This blog will no longer be updated, but the Maryland Politics page will feature the same breaking news — as well as longer stories that appear in the pages of the Post — all in one location.
You’ll continue to get the latest out of the State House in Annapolis, as well as news from Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and beyond.
Pepco union approves contract, averting strike
Pepco’s union on Thursday approved a four-year contract with the company, averting a strike that had worried local officials and residents for weeks, company and union officials said Friday.
Last month, an overwhelming majority of union members voted to reject what the company had called its “last, best and final” offer. Immediately after the vote, union leaders and company officials went back to the negotiating table, and they reached a tentative agreement with Pepco two weeks ago.
On Thursday, a “comfortable majority” of the union’s membership voted to approve the agreement, said James A. Griffin, president of the union International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1900. The turnout was about 90 percent.
The contract keeps the wage increases that the company offered in its “last, best and final” offer. Over four years, workers will get an additional 2.25 percent the first year and then 2.5 percent annually. They have received annual wage increases of 2 percent or more since 1999, the company has said.
But Griffin said the union’s problem with the previous proposal wasn’t with the money. He said his greatest concern was that Pepco wanted to eliminate the union’s ability to arbitrate changes to its health and welfare plans in favor of a different appeal process. In the tentative agreement, the company agreed to an arbitration process, Griffin said.
Pepco spokeswoman Myra Oppel declined to comment on details of the contract. In an e-mail Friday, she said Pepco is “happy” with the agreement and declined to comment further.
Pepco has said it would not give workers retroactive increases on wages and benefits because its previous offer was rejected. The increases totaled about $1.1 million, or $1,000 a worker. Griffin said the union negotiated a lump-sum payment to compensate workers for the lost retroactive wages.
The company and union were at an impasse for months, and officials from both sides said they thought a strike was a real possibility. The old contract was set to expire in May.
The dispute involved Pepco’s linemen and electricians, the workers who are key to restoring service during outages. Amid widespread consumer resentment over service shortfalls and outages after last summer’s derecho storm, Pepco was concerned with the possibility that much of its workforce would walk out.
Most of the new contract is effective immediately, Griffin said. Some of the wage increases won’t go into effect for a few weeks, and changes to the union’s health and welfare plans won’t go into effect until Jan. email@example.com
Roscoe Bartlett, facing tough Democratic challenge, spars over role of government in debate
HAGERSTOWN — Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, facing perhaps the fiercest challenge in his 20-year congressional career, engaged two opponents in a courtly debate Wednesday focusing mostly on the appropriate role of the federal government.
In question after question, Bartlett (R) argued that less is more, saying he joined the tea party’s ranks because the nation must return to the basic principles of constitutional government.
“What people want most from the government is for government to get out of the way,” said Bartlett, who was a founding member of the Congressional Tea Party Caucus.
Nickolaus Mueller, the Libertarian Party candidate, argued that even less would still be too much government.
Democratic nominee John K. Delaney struck a tone somewhere in the middle, saying he believed the federal government had an important role in guiding the nation’s economy.Continue reading this post »