What they're saying about the O'Malley-Ehrlich debate

Here's a look at what people are saying about the gubernatorial debate between Gov. Martin O'Malley and former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. held Thursday:

• The Washington Post's Maryland Politics says the out-of-state gubernatorial debate provided memorable one-liners, and that both candidates' performances could work to each one's advantage.

Critics and pundits by and large said Ehrlich's energized performance was better than in the first face-to-face between the two men earlier this week, and likely charged up his base and perhaps even prompted some to cut checks to underwrite a few more television ads for the contest's final weeks.

Moves, however, by the O'Malley campaign by Thursday night -- including posting a 90-second highlight reel online that included one instance in which Ehrlich elicited a mix of boos and applause -- suggested the governor's camp also thought images from the debate of Ehrlich, who at times appeared impatient on camera, could also work to the incumbent's advantage.

• Margie Hyslop of The Gazette says utility flaws are thrusting the Public Service Commission into the election spotlight.

Each blames the other for big rate increases by Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. The charges flew again Thursday at the second debate between the gubernatorial candidates. A continuing point of contention has been the performance of the PSC under each governor.

The candidates clung to their records in office, writes Hayley Peterson in The Washington Examiner's Capital Land.

Thursday's second debate of the Maryland election [was turned into] into another political missile-throwing match with limited substantive discussion about the future

Ehrlich claimed O'Malley's administration is stifling small businesses, instigating class warfare, driving away corporate headquarters, relying too much on federal money and investing in unrealistic transit plans.

O'Malley claimed Ehrlich "failed" as governor and is unable to provide a concrete plan to fund his planned sales tax cut. He says his opponent is playing into "politics of fear," siding with big corporations and "talking down" the state's poor and black population.

• Red Maryland's Richard E. Vatz says the unbiased behavior of the WJZ moderator and audience on Monday was not matched in Thursday's debate.

When the audience made its opinions known, it hooted at Gov. Ehrlich. There was a consistent if not crushing prevailing anti-Ehrlich bias from moderator Mary Jordan, the very liberal editor of Washington Post Live. Repeatedly, she angrily admonished him to cut off his answers and address himself to questions, while her behavior toward Gov. O'Malley on such matters was less frequent and virtually without affect. When it was arguable that Gov. O'Malley had failed to address or be responsive a question, there was either no moderator reaction or a very mild encouragement to do so.

The questioning by WAMU 88.5 reporter Matt Bush and WUSA News weekday anchor Derek McGinty was completely fair and right down the middle in substance and tone.

Via The Baltimore Sun on Twitter

@archkardinal: @Ehrlich4MD kicked serious butt at #mddebate #ThisIsEpic

@MattVerghese: O'Malley stays on his positive message while defending his record of progress. Maryland wants to go forward not back!

@joejohnson19: Wow! That was an awesome debate! @Ehrlich4MD really exposed @GovernorOMalley & his record! Clearly not moving md fwd

@Mona_B2010: Who wants to see two parties leading Md at cost of progress?. With Dems leading, we're #1 in edu, #1 in IT, richest state in US

@patrickmgleason: O'Malley says Ehrlich puts poor ppl down. Ehrlich: "You know what really puts poor ppl down? raising the sales tax." #pwned

@rpweed2010: wow...Ehrlich is really stuck in the past and sounds like a dog that has been backed into a corner. O'Malley 2 Ehrlich 0

Via The Baltimore Sun Talk Forums

PinnochiO'Malley's nose grows everytime he fails to tell the truth....lately it's been dragging on the ground!. -- Terry K

The nice thing about this debate is it will be aired twice. For something thrown together in a couple of days, I thought the format, questions, and ability to follow up with questions were all vast improvements over the first debate. Also, I liked the three person panel approach. -- BigB

I agree. I'm sick of hearing about tuition and teachers. I'm sick of hearing when "Ehrlich was fired" ... I'm sick of it all. I have to say that in my opinion Ehrlich clearly won today. Why? Because he was honest, compassionate and up front and he didn't care what he looked like, he didn't care whether he was looking into the camera. He's more down to earth and I can relate to down to earth more than I can relate to the hatred behind a fake smile. -- b4its2late

Ehrlich is insufferable. My God... The more he talks the less you like him. Really... "It should be called the Ehrlicc ICC" can you believe he said that?!?!? -- Marshan Man

Once again O'malley seemed very polished and prepared for this debate and came across as this likable guy that women and kids would like to snuggle up with. I think Ehrlich had better posture compared to the first debate and did a better job of not coming across as a sore loser and was talking conversationally about what he thought was wrong and needed to be corrected, which is a plus. I thought it was smart for Ehrlich to hammer O'Malley on the "New Americans" euphemism making it clear for all to see O'Malley's true position on the issue.

The moderators did an excellent job overall. Good question selection, enforcement of the rules, and pinning candidates down when they tried to evade the questions. The moderators did not appear to favor either candidate (which was also true in the first debate).

Overall, I don't think either candidate came out as a clear winner but Ehrlich's improvements on this debate over the last one may have helped cast doubts about Ehrlich being this big, rich, uncaring "in it for himself" politician that the attack ads portray him as.

In my opinion: This debate either had no effect or slightly hurt O'Malley. This debate either had no effect or slightly helped Ehrlich. -- microg

[Compiled by Carla Correa]