ANNAPOLIS – Few places could be better for statewide campaigning than populous Montgomery County and few topics could be more pertinent to the area right now than guns and crime.
Both the venue and the topic were center stage in the gubernatorial campaigns of Democratic Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Ehrlich Tuesday.
“It’s the big enchilada as far as population goes,” said Len Foxwell, Townsend campaign press secretary, of Montgomery County.
The issue of gun control is relevant in Montgomery County just days after the arrest of John Allen Muhammad and John Malvo, the two suspects in the sniper shootings that claimed 10 lives in the greater Washington, D.C., area in three weeks. Six of the fatalities were in Montgomery County.
Ehrlich, the Republican candidate, began Tuesday’s lobby for support with a visit to the Montgomery County Fraternal Order of Police in Rockville.
The organization, which represents 1,050 active and retired Montgomery County Police officers, endorsed the congressman.
“Montgomery County’s law enforcement community has received international attention for the professionalism, leadership, and diligence it exhibited in the face of a horrific crisis,” Ehrlich said. “These exceptional men and women have spoken loudly in support of my campaign. I am honored to stand here with them.”
The Montgomery County FOP joins both Baltimore and Baltimore County Fraternal Orders of Police in their endorsement of Ehrlich.
“The men and women of the Montgomery County Police Department carefully considered both candidates for governor,” said Montgomery County FOP President Walt Bader. “They looked at their track records and listened to their plans to make our streets safer.”
“It shows that the Montgomery FOP, as well as several other rank and file of law enforcement, agree with Ehrlich’s view on crime prevention,” said Shareese DeLeaver, Ehrlich campaign spokeswoman.
Later in the day, Ehrlich was endorsed by Maryland state’s attorneys and law enforcement officials for his support of Project Exile, a plan that would deny bail and plea bargains for people who commit crimes with guns and require mandatory prison sentences.
“The fact is, this is not a partisan issue,” DeLeaver said. “It gets bad guys with guns off the streets.”
Ehrlich also attended a rally at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport fire station with the BWI Fire Department, the Martin State Airport Fire Department and the State Fire Marshals for their announcement of support for the congressman.
Townsend took a different route Tuesday, stopping at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Rockville to propose giving the Maryland Handgun Roster Board more authority in banning assault weapons and “Saturday Night Special” handguns.
While Ehrlich’s campaign continued to focus on crime issues Tuesday, Townsend branched out to other topics important to the race. Shortly after the courthouse meeting, she visited the Silver Spring Boys and Girls Club to discuss education issues and the Silver Spring Metro stop to visit with commuters.
Townsend also visited Leisure World, a retirement community in Silver Spring to discuss health care issues with elderly voters.
“Health care has been and remains the defining issue in this campaign,” Foxwell said.
Townsend completed her day with a town hall meeting at Highland View Elementary School in Silver Spring with Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan. “Kathleen sees this as an opportunity to hear what’s on people’s minds,” Foxwell said. “That’s the beauty of town hall meetings; you can anticipate what people are going to say and they will come out and surprise you.” – 30 – CNS-10-29-02