Searching for votes on a football Sunday

Republican state Sen. Nancy Jacobs, running a long-shot campaign to oust Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, stood in a cold wind along York Road waving a big purple sign along with a dozen supporters.

Money is scarce. There's been little help from her party in Washington. But there was Jacobs on a Ravens football Sunday, waving away as if one more smile at a passing motorist would put her over the top.


"You know what? I'm enjoying myself. I love campaigning," she said.

As the last weekend hours before Tuesday's election dwindled down, candidates for office and advocates for several high-profile ballot questions seized one of their last opportunities to persuade Marylanders to get to the polls and vote their way.


At the Baltimore farmers market under the Jones Falls Expressway, there were no signs of campaign activity on behalf of President Barack Obama or Republican challenger Mitt Romney. But Vince Tola of Baltimore was there passing out brochures for Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

Stein, Tola said, is on the ballot in 37 states, including Maryland. "I've been out the past several weekends," he said. "There's a lot of people saying they like what she says but are going with Obama."

Rebecca and Christopher Bruce of Baltimore went to the market to give away lawn signs supporting Question 6, which would permit same-sex marriage in Maryland. Rebecca Bruce said her employer had printed up several hundred "For Question 6: Marriage for All" signs, and she and her husband were down to their last 40 or so.

"I would definitely say it's a labor of love for love," she said.

For Allison Kapner and Chris Oh, their appearance at the market was labor on behalf of their employer, MGM Resorts International. The former Maryland residents, who now live in Las Vegas, were passing out MGM tote bags along with brochures urging a yes vote on Question 7, which could give their company the opportunity to open a casino at National Harbor in Prince George's County. The two said they've distributed 400-600 bags at the market each of the last four weekends.

The MGM table had no visible competition at the market from Penn National Gaming, the rival casino company which has budgeted more than $40 million to defeat Question 7.

"I've never seen the other side anywhere," said Oh.

In the state's most hotly contested congressional race, Democrat John Delaney spent Sunday talking with volunteers in campaign offices throughout the 6th District, starting in Hagerstown, moving on to Frederick and ending more than six hours later in Gaithersburg. Wearing boots and a blue wind breaker, the Potomac businessman also led several teams of campaign workers for door-knocking in the district.


"We all know that the stakes are so high," Delaney told the Gaithersburg volunteers, who will be pressed to work at a frenzied pace over the next 48 hours. "We all know we have the right plan."

Rep. Steny Hoyer, who has been campaigning for Delaney, was at his side again in Gaithersburg on Sunday, firing up the several dozen volunteers who were working computers and phone banks. Hoyer said he drove two hours to Montgomery County from a rally of his own in Lexington Park to meet with Delaney's campaign workers.

"You are critical," Hoyer told the group. "People aren't going to know your name, but after this campaign and he's sworn in as a member of Congress … hey're going to understand that it was each one of you ... who made it happen."

Delaney is running against incumbent Republican Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett in a race that has drawn national attention. Democrats in Washington believe the 6th District is one of their best opportunities in the nation to pick off an incumbent Republican. Following last year's redistricting by the General Assembly, the 6th District stretches from Western Maryland to Washington's suburbs.

Bartlett's campaign did not release any public schedule for Sunday, but the congressman did speak at a rally in Rockville Saturday that drew most of the state's GOP leaders, including Rep. Andy Harris and the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Daniel Bongino. Several speakers, including Bartlett, made reference to a recent poll conducted for The Baltimore Sun that showed the candidates in a virtual tie.

"It is indeed a very tight race – it's uphill for us, of course," said Bartlett, who lives in Buckeystown. "Every vote does count."


Holding signs for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and chanting "three more days," the party faithful who gathered at the rally scattered to canvass neighborhoods and call voters in the region. They were encouraged to be persistent with neighbors and friends — to ensure that they will turn out on Tuesday.

"This fight is worth having," Bongino said. "The fight in Texas and Oklahoma is already won. The fight is in blue states, in Maryland. Your ideas are worth fighting for, every time."

Jacobs picked the hour before kickoff of the Ravens game to do her sign-waving. She said she's been getting a great response and is predicting an upset victory in her bid for the 2nd District congressional seat despite a lack of financial support from national Republican campaign committees.

"They've written off Maryland as a state. They're not even helping Roscoe Bartlett, I think," she said.

While Jacobs waved, her Democratic opponent took the day off. Ruppersberger spokeswoman Jamie Lennon said the congressman went to church and watched the game as he regrouped for a full day of campaign events Monday.

Supporters of the Dream Act, which would allow some illegal immigrants to pay in-state college tuition rates, drew a crowd of about 150 to a rally in East Baltimore.


Hannah Holliday, a Spanish language teacher at Forest Park High School, came to the event with one of her students, junior, DaTonya Price. Holliday said she feels strongly about passing Question 4 because it would help many of her neighbors in Fells Point.

"A lot of my neighbors are Spanish speakers and new immigrants," she said.

One of those immigrants, Jonathan "J.J." Jayes-Green, told the crowd that he hadn't been able to attend the University of Maryland College Park under the current law. A native of Panama who was brought to the United State when he was 13, Jayes-Green said he was not eligible for in-state tuition because of his immigration status and could not afford out-of-state tuition. He said he since has been able to attend Goucher College on a private academic scholarship.

His story touched a chord with the event's main speaker, U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, who is seeking re-election against Bongino and independent Rob Sobhani.

"You are a Marylander and we're proud of you," Cardin said. "We need J.J. educated."