Neither Gov. Martin O'Malley nor former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has stumped about immigration issues on the campaign trail this summer. But it's possible that Arizona's decision to seek out and arrest illegal immigrants -- and the Justice Department's lawsuit to stop the state -- will play a role in the fall election here.
O'Malley was among the Democratic governors who expressed concern about the federal lawsuit this weekend at a National Governors Association meeting in Boston, according to the New York Times.
The Times reported that some Democratic governors -- seven of whom face reelection this fall -- are uneasy about the timing of the federal lawsuit. It introduces the "toxic" issue of immigration to an election that should be exclusively about jobs, Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a Democrat, told The Times.
O'Malley serves as vice chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, so he might be particularly attuned to potential problems facing all of his counterparts seeking reelection. And O'Malley and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer were just tapped to head the National Governors Association's homeland security committee, meaning he'll keep a close eye on the topic of immigration nationally.
While immigration might be low on the list of Maryland voter priorities, they appear to be generally supportive of the Arizona crackdown-- and largely disapproving of the Justice Department stepping in.
Hardly scientific, but in response to a question posed by The Sun's editorial board, more than 70 percent of readers said they do not approve of the lawsuit (1,454 people voted.) And a June Rasmussen poll showed that 66 percent of Maryland voters support the Arizona law.
Ehrlich, a Republican, has not directly commented on the Arizona law or the lawsuit, but on his WBAL radio talk show, which he recently gave up, he allowed a caller to promote a protest of Casa de Maryland, a group that assists immigrants.
Don't expect a wholesale conversation change -- in fact, O'Malley will join labor leaders for a jobs rally this morning in Annapolis -- but watch for immigration to creep into the election one way or another.