Baltimore city helped secure a solid re-election win for Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday, but few were excited by what was on the ballot, with many complaining about the overly negative campaign ads and lack of options.
Several who pulled the lever for the Democratic incumbent — O’Malley got 54 percent of the vote to Ehrlich’s 44 percent — said they were mostly voting against his opponent and, in particular, against his opponent’s television ads.
“I knew for sure I wasn’t voting for Ehrlich. He dances to the (Republican) Party’s music,” said Joseph Kennedy, 68, after voting at Winston Elementary School.
“And those ads of his. Especially that one that said O’Malley raised tuition. I know he froze tuition for like three of the four years,” Kennedy said, getting into his pick-up truck. “I mean, you have to raise it some, no one blames him for that. I thought: ‘They should have taken that ad off!”
In other area match-ups, Democrat Kevin Kamemenetz won the Baltimore County Executive race over Kenneth C. Holt, Anne Arundel voters approved a slots parlor at Arundel Mills Mall and, in the majority party’s only big defeat in Maryland, Republican state senator Andy Harris unseated Democrat Frank Kratovil in the 1st District Congressional race.
The Harris victory was the only place in the state where the anti-incumbent sentiment that swept the nation in this recession-riven election seems to have gotten traction.
In interviews in the late days of the campaign, with his polling numbers looking good, O’Malley was predicting, correctly, that Maryland is going to be “a bright spot” for Democrats this year.
At the Northwood Branch of Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Library yesterday, at the corner of Loch Raven Blvd. and Cold Spring Lane, election officials said that turnout was steady, despite early voting.
“It’s been an even flow,” said Barbara Brown, one of the chief election judges at the northeast Baltimore polling place.
Cynthia Green, overseeing the voting at Winston Elementary, had much the same report.
“We’ve had a steady flow and no problems,” said Green, explaining why the day might have gone so well: “We read scripture and prayed for a smooth Election Day.”
Green said she herself took advantage of early voting, as did O’Malley’s forces, who last month pushed their candidate and the idea of early voting in the Democratic strongholds of Baltimore City and Prince George’s County.
“I voted on the last day you could do early voting and I had to wait in line for an hour,” Green said.
Hampden residents reporting to the Academy of College and Career Exploration on 36th St reported a range of disappointment, from the unenthused to those with an equal dislike for both gubernatorial candidates.
Despite the lack of enthusiasm, election judge Stephanie Hershinow reported a fairly steady turnout throughout the day that began with her shift at 5:30 AM. When asked about the size of the turnout compared to previous years she claimed that it was “hard to gauge due to early voting,” but that it was a “steady stream.”
At 5 PM there were no reported problems at the Academy of College and Career Exploration. “It’s been extremely smooth and well done,” said Officer O’Donnell in charge of seven polling stations in and around Hampden.
Voters seemed split on O’Malley and Ehrlich with many claiming that the campaign highlighted few differences between the candidates.
Voters ISO a reason to care
UMBC worker Thomas Murphy explained that he voted for Ehrlich because he saw raises during the time when the Republican was in the Governor’s Mansion, and that he thought “O’Malley should go back and play with his band.”
Hampden resident and teacher Ameriga Alonzo voted for O’Malley because she said that Ehrlich was “likely to slash more government jobs.” Despite her support, Alonzo isn’t the biggest O’Malley fan. She explained that his failure to stop the recent Constellation Energy rate increase “erased all the good that he did.”
Voters at the Chase House polling station in Mt. Vernon expressed similar discontent. The most common complaint came in regards to the increasingly negative campaign fought primarily with T.V. attack ads, with many commenting that they couldn’t wait for them to stop. Mt. Vernon resident Louis Bills said that she was “glad it’s over because the commercials and negativity were ridiculous.”
Few felt confident that either gubernatorial candidate would be a clear winner. “I think it will be interesting to see who wins,” said Mt. Vernon resident Emily Rickelton. “I know what people have been saying and I know who is ahead in the polls, but you never know.”
Despite the grumbling discontent of Baltimore City residents, the scene at the Chase House was one of relative calm. Lines moved quickly, and all voters this reporter talked to mentioned that they had good experiences with no problems reported.
-Fern Shen also contributed to this story.