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News Maryland Politics

David Nitkin on state politics issues

Duane, Silver Spring: Who was the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor in 1986 and what was his race?

Nitkin: Duane, that's a great trivia question, and now that you asked it, I looked it up.

In 1986, the Democratic ticket of William Donald Schaefer and Melvin A. Steinberg defeated the Republican duo of Thomas J. Mooney and Melvin Bilal.

Bilal is a Muslim and African-American, and also holds the distinction as being part of the worst gubernatorial defeat in Maryland history. Schaefer got a record 82 percent of the vote in 1986. In 2004, Bilal ran for Baltimore City Council, and was defeated by Stephanie Rawlings Blake in District 6.

Peg, Baltimore: What percentage of registered voters voted [in the general election]?

Nitkin: Based on our calculations, it appears that slightly less than 60 percent of registered voters cast their ballots -- a total that includes absentee ballot requests. It's a figure that is about average for turnout in mid-term elections.

Aleia, Baltimore: With Martin O'Malley winning the governor's race and Sheila Dixon taking over as mayor, who takes on being the City Council president?

Nitkin: The City Council can select anyone to be president (chances are, the choice will be from within its ranks, but it need not be), and voters will decide on a council president during the city election next year.

M. Bereston, Annapolis: Is the press just too timid to call out the [Republican National Committee] and governor's campaign for the misleading [fliers] being distributed in Prince George's County? These tactics would be reduced, if not eliminated, if there was a spotlight shining on those responsible. Instead, the dirty tricksters can only be encouraged to keep it up.

Nitkin: The Sun and other media outlets reported extensively on the "sample ballots" distributed in Prince George's County and Baltimore that incorrectly implied that African-American leaders such as Kweisi Mfume and Prince George's County Executive Jack Johnson endorsed Ehrlich and Steele. The ballots bore the authority line of the Ehrlich and Steele campaigns, and both campaigns have acknowledged producing them -- which appears to be within the law. There is no indication, to my knowledge, that the Republican National Committee is involved.

The dirty tricks appear to have backfired, and many political leaders in Prince George's County say the ballots -- distributed by day-workers (including homeless people) bused in from Philadelphia -- were insulting to voters in the country's wealthiest and best-educated majority-black jurisdiction.

Note: This article has been modified from its original version.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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