Sarah Palin was the first national political figure to weigh in on Maryland politics by endorsing former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's Republican primary opponent, Brian Murphy.

Then her former 2008 running mate, Arizona Sen. John McCain, threw his weight behind Ehrlich. Now, though, the question is: has President Obama weighed in with a slate of Democrats from Gov. Martin O'Malley to Baltimore County Sheriff R. Jay Fisher?

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Probably not. But word is that mailers and T-shirts showing a list of candidates have been circulating in several precincts in Baltimore County today saying he has.

With the heading "Team Obama," the list also includes Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, County Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for county executive, Suzanne Mensh, running for Baltimore County Circuit Court clerk, Kenneth N. Oliver, who is seeking re-election to the County Council, and four candidates seeking re-election in the 10th Legislative District: Sen. Delores G. Kelley and delegates Emmett C. Burns, Adrienne A. Jones and Shirley Nathan-Pulliam.

The material is identified as coming from "The Freedom to Choose Reginald Hill, Chairman."

The organization is shown as a PAC on the State Board of Elections Web site going back at least to the 2002 election cycle, the earliest one listed on the site. So far this year, the PAC reported $3,452 in contributions, but no expenses. The same organization is listed in the authority line on direct mailers sent out attacking Tom Quirk, one of four candidates for the Democratic nomination for the County Council seat in District 1. Those mailers show an address of 1405 Fox Gap Road in Fallston, Harford County. Searches on Google maps and the Nexis database shows a 1405 Fox Gap Court, not road. Indeed, that address is shown for a Charles Jenkins, who is listed on the anti-Quirk mailers as the PAC treasurer. No one answered a call placed to the address.

Tom Welzenbach, campaign manager for Bartenfelder, said he hadn't seen the "Team Obama" materials, but said it sounded like "somebody's trying to stir up something. ... It's definitely not us."

Peter Clerkin, campaign manager for Bartenfelder's opponent, County Councilman Kevin Kamenetz, said he was mystified as to what the material was about.

"I didn't know Obama was playing in this race," Clerkin said.

-Arthur Hirsch

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