Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry can expect a forceful defense of Maryland from Gov. Martin O'Malley when Perry arrives here next week to try to lure businesses to Texas.
"Gov. Perry, frankly, has a lot more hat than cattle," O'Malley said told a crowd of Democrats Thursday night. "I debated Gov. Perry before. I did it only once. I kicked his (expletive). And he's never come back for more."
The more than 650 state Democrats gathered in a Greenbelt ballroom for an annual fundraiser erupted in applause to O'Malley's zinger, which the governor followed with a list of statistics that ranked Maryland above Texas in schools, economic achievement and median income and below the Lone Start state in poverty rates and residents without health insurance.
The governor later told reporters, "I'm going to greet him with facts."
Perry began airing radio and television ads in Maryland Thursday that criticized the state's business climate, took a swipe at O'Malley's tenure as governor and invited businesses to move to Texas. Perry also announced he would arrive in Maryland next Wednesday for private meetings with companies.
Perry and O'Malley, both considered possible contenders for a 2016 presidential race, publicly sparred in a 2011 debate when O'Malley was chair of the Democratic Governors Association and Perry led the Republican counterpart.
O'Malley, who considered himself the victor in that exchange, said he had not seen Perry since the debate. "He would never go one-on-one on TV again either," O'Malley said.
The Maryland governor downplayed what has become a trademark in Perry's efforts to entice companies to relocate to Texas. Perry, through the economic development group TexasOne, has aired critical ads in other states lead by Democratic governors - California, Missouri, New York and Connecticut - and then followed them with a personal visit.
"He probably has some Maryland company teed up to go to Texas ahead of time and he comes here and then claims credit afterward," O'Malley said. "But, I'm looking forward to his arrival."