Elections
Cathy Tracy, Owings Mills: I'm looking for a voters' guide listing candidates and their qualifications for office. Is there any such thing at this time?

Nitkin: The Maryland League of Women Voters' Web site says that it will have such a voters' guide available in mid-August. Right now, the site lists the candidates for statewide office, and includes links to their Web sites, if available. Check out the site here.

Bruce, Rockville: I saw a recent article in The Sun about Maryland's economy slowing down in June. Will this have any impact on the governor's race? [Gov. Robert L.] Ehrlich [Jr.] has pronounced that he is such a great steward of the economy. With the cost I am paying for gas and for college tuition this fall at [the University of Maryland, College Park], I feel like I am starting to run out of money. I need more than a smile and a pat on the back from him.

Nitkin: The state of the economy is always an important issue for incumbent governors or mayors seeking re-election. The question is how badly Maryland voters are feeling any pinch, and whether they blame current incumbents. Unemployment in Maryland remains low, many industries such as biotechnology are strong, jobs are flowing in thanks to the federal military base realignment and other federal spending, and housing prices do not appear to be dropping as quickly as in some other areas.

Michael Burns, Linthicum: I am a little confused by a story from the July 29, 2006, edition of your newspaper regarding a Democratic Party county official endorsing the Democratic nominee for governor. My question is as follows: Why is it news that a Democratic elected official is endorsing the Democrats' nominee for governor? You could literally run hundreds of similar stories for both parties in any election year -- so why in the world is this a news story?

Any thought to maybe asking Harford County Executive, and Republican, David [R.] Craig if he is endorsing Republican candidate Ehrlich for governor and running a similar story? If not, isn't this an example of the bias Ehrlich claims is endemic in your newspaper's coverage?

Nitkin: The July 29 story by Josh Mitchell discussed Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith's endorsement of Martin O'Malley -- who is expected to be the Democratic nominee for governor. The endorsement was newsworthy for two reasons: Smith had not yet endorsed a candidate, even though many other Baltimore County officials had; and many political observers believe Baltimore County -- where Smith is popular and considered likely to win re-election -- is a bellwether in the race for governor.

With Smith working actively for O'Malley, Ehrlich is weakened somewhat in his home territory. I also found the story illuminating because Smith was willing to go on the record about how he found Ehrlich unresponsive to county concerns (the governor's office, to be sure, disagrees with this characterization) and unwilling to return his telephone calls.

So, I found the story to be different than the "hundreds of similar stories" we could write about endorsements. I would imagine that at some point in our coverage, we would note whom Craig is supporting for governor.

Jeanne Harrison, Middle River: I only get The Sun on Fridays and Sundays, so I may have missed [something] during the week. The article in the Maryland section of the Sunday paper for July 23 regarding the 3rd Congressional District candidates barely mentions any of the Republican candidates, yet there are many quotes from Democrats.

I understand the focus of the article was on how difficult it may be for Democrats to win in this district. I would think, in the interests of being unbiased, another article highlighting the Republican candidates would be appropriate. I am a Democrat married to a Republican and frequently hear comments about the "liberal media."

Nitkin: The July 23 article by Sumathi Reddy examined the push that candidates are making in Anne Arundel County, where none of them are well-known. You are correct that the story focused almost exclusively on Democratic candidates. The district is heavily Democratic, and the Democratic primary seems very competitive.

There are several Republican candidates who have filed to run; the front-runner seems to be Dr. Gary Applebaum, who apparently has the support of Ehrlich and who has raised significant money to run a race. We included Applebaum in the story, and will write more about him -- most likely after the primary.

Ed Goldstein, Maryland: Hi ... great work! Just curious as to when The Sun political endorsements will be coming out? Thanks.

Nitkin: Endorsements are handled by The Sun editorial board. We on the news side are not part of the process. I do know that the board is in the process of interviewing primary candidates for state offices, so the endorsements will be rolled out within the next two to three weeks.

Andrew, Owings Mills: Hey, David. I wanted to know your thoughts on the race for the 3rd Congressional District seat (vacated by [U.S. Rep. Benjamin L.] Cardin) -- [John P.] Sarbanes, [Paula C.] Hollinger, or [Dr. Peter L.] Beilenson? Thanks.

Nitkin: My thoughts continue to be that the race is too close to call, and that there are a wealth of qualified candidates.

Donald Brady, Columbia: If [Lt. Gov.] Michael [S.] Steele somehow becomes a U.S. senator, would he support embryonic stem cell research funding or would he support [President] George W. Bush's veto?