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No voter should stay home on Nov. 7

November 05, 2006|by Dee Mayberry

After a career spent observing the political scene (and candidates making it up), this writer is capable of cynicism about both parties. Over the years she has been hard on some Republicans and worked 20-hour days for others.

The point in saying this is her thought that political positions are best taken on the basis of good or bad, right or wrong - not on the basis of party affiliation. Her definition of a good candidate is one who seeks the best and works the hardest for citizens who are to be served - not the one who looks for maximum personal advantage.

Beneath this thinking lies a strong belief that all office seekers are not unworthy liars. They are really quite typical men and women, some good and some less so.

From this perspective it seems a shame that any state can be "counted on" to go red or blue at any given time. It is a greater shame that voters sometimes give up, stop listening and cast ballots simply based on party.

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Currently, the pundits say the Maryland State House is among five in the country that are in play for party change. It is interesting that some political experts claim mothers become most heavily involved after their children celebrate Halloween. These women are very important voters and they need to know what a difference they can make.

In October, incumbent Gov. Bob Ehrlich was polling below Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley in that statewide race. There was little opportunity to find out where this polling was done and Washington County had reason to speculate that the numbers came out of populous areas downstate.

The Herald-Mail, much recognized through many media awards, has published a thoughtful common-sense analysis of citizen outcomes if either Ehrlich or O'Malley were elected this time. Giving sound reasons for it, the paper endorsed Ehrlich.

This newspaper is in good company. The Washington Times has come out with a ringing endorsement of the governor. Even The Washington Post, so different from the Times, endorsed Ehrlich, saying of O'Malley, "he is Baltimore-centered" and "has balked at grappling with the tough budgetary choices as state spending soars for education and health care."

Acknowledging that the governor is not perfect, the Post said he "has shaken up the old guard in Maryland politics - while appointing plenty of Democrats to his cabinet and judgeships."

People tend to be touchy about the media. Over time, The Herald-Mail has taken its share of heat from readers. Moreover, people ask why it took the Post some 40 years to get around to endorsing a Maryland GOP candidate for governor. They wonder why the Times covers Virginia more fully than our state.

Whatever anyone may think of these newspapers, their editorial boards, following facts over several years, usually engage in reasonable weight-giving when it comes to important endorsement analyses. So, what will local voters do?

Along with other less populated areas, Washington County can come forward in large numbers to take positions impacting the entire state. With its strong show-me attitude, this county is likely to support the governor over his Baltimore rival unless it begins to bicker over individual issues - some serious, some not.

If one group declines to not vote because a prison head is not yet removed and another stays home because of a $30 flush fee, this county risks ending up with Baltimore-style leadership.

Its delegates to the General Assembly can be marginalized and their voices ignored without supportive gubernatorial backing.

Currently, the state legislature demonstrates a desire to settle back into a business-as-usual mode under almost any Democrat governor-hopeful who files - even the big-city mayor who refuses to take future tax increases off the table. Flush fees are chump change compared to pain the O'Malley high-tax bent can inflict.

Washington County can help make that happen. Its voters can grow lazy or impatient. They can get angry about George Bush, who is not on the Maryland ballot and never will be again. They can just opt out of the whole thing and stay home.

There is another way to go. Washington County can join with nearby Carroll County, which projects an 83 percent vote for Ehrlich against O'Malley. It can join with similar-thinking Eastern Shore counties working for high turnout on election day.

These, too, have local disappointments; nothing is perfect for them, either.

Nevertheless, their crossover Democrats and active conservatives along with Western Maryland can succeed in rejecting Baltimore statewide control.

This time around every Washington County vote counts. Let's be sure to cast it Nov. 7.

Dee Mayberry is a Boonsboro resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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