ANNAPOLIS – A day after new polls gave U.S. Rep. Bob Ehrlich the lead over Kathleen Kennedy Townsend in the gubernatorial race, three advocacy groups rallied their support for the lieutenant governor and denounced her opponent.
The events are a gimmick, the Ehrlich campaign said, designed to distract voters from the poll numbers.
“I don’t feel the two are unrelated,” said Ehrlich spokeswoman Shareese DeLeaver. “The endorsement of these groups is not unexpected.”
Tuesday, a Mason-Dixon poll showed Ehrlich leads Townsend 46 percent to 43 percent of the vote. A similar poll released by Gonzales/Arscott Research and Communications revealed that Ehrlich had 47 percent of the vote to Townsend’s 46 percent.
The two are unrelated, Townsend said, except as an opportunity to discuss her opponent’s record.
First up Wednesday was the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Million Mom March in Silver Spring, which attacked Ehrlich’s gun law record. Half an hour later, the Maryland State Teachers Association released its report card on the candidates’ education positions. At 2:30 p.m., the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League endorsed Townsend.
“We had always planned in the fall to make it clear that (Ehrlich’s) views are not in touch with the Maryland mainstream,” Townsend said. “He went to Washington to join the Newt Gingrich revolution and he is proud to be a foot soldier of that revolution.”
Ehrlich was elected to Congress in 1994 when the Republican Party took control of the House and Senate, largely on a strategy devised by U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.
Education has become the key issue in both camps. Both released political ads on the issue this week.
MSTA rated the candidates’ stances on vouchers, class sizes, pre- K/kindergarten issues, school modernization and school safety. Townsend got all As and Ehrlich all Fs.
“The choice for an education governor is clear,” said MSTA President Patricia Foerster. “We want a leader who will not only make promises but will keep them.”
MSTA’s endorsement of Townsend was no secret and Wednesday’s news conference had already been planned, and had nothing to do with the polls, said Foerster.
MSTA’s claims are another case of distortion of Ehrlich’s record, said DeLeaver.
“Congressman Ehrlich has a record of pro-education in this state,” DeLeaver said. “He has voted to funnel money into public education.”
Townsend said she’s been forced to analyze Ehrlich’s record because his campaign, unlike hers, has not produced an in-depth platform.
Townsend’s 32-page platform, however, said DeLeaver, is full of “rhetoric.”
The Brady Campaign linked Ehrlich to the National Rifle Association and said his voting record indicates he would work to repeal current Maryland gun legislation.
That’s wrong, said DeLeaver. Ehrlich has never promised to roll back or repeal current gun legislation.
“Make no mistake about it, Ehrlich’s longstanding record in opposition to sensible gun laws reveals that he is far from moderate on this issue, and shows that he puts the interest of special interest groups like the NRA above the safety of Maryland’s neighborhoods,” said Brady Campaign President Michael D. Barnes.
NARAL attacked Ehrlich’s record, too, saying he’s “voted against a woman’s right to choose over 55 percent of the time.”
“The truth is, on critical votes on choice, he cannot be counted on to protect and defend a woman’s right to choose,” said NARAL President Kate Michelman in a statement.
However, a closer look at Ehrlich’s voting record shows he voted for abortion rights in some instances. “Hopefully,” DeLeaver said, “Maryland voters are smart enough to tell the difference between reality and rhetoric.” – 30 – CNS-9-18-02