Ehrlich, O’Malley running close with three months to go

The humans have weighed in and, as the robots said previously, it’s a tie.

The summer’s first poll conducted by human beings (the past two were robo polls – “push one for Democrat, two for Republican” etc.) shows the Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich just about neck and neck with three months and change to go before Election Day.

O’Malley led Ehrlich took 45-42 in the Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies Inc. poll, with the margin well inside the 3.5 percent margin of error. Eight percent of those surveyed said they were undecided.

“The race for governor as of late July is really close. Incumbent Governor O’Malley has a slight lead in our poll, but it’s clear that either candidate could win in November,” the firm wrote.

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Where have all the millionaires gone?

The New York Times had an interesting story on Friday about an IRS report on tax return filing trends in 2008.

I know, I know. “Tax return filing trends can be interesting?” you’re asking yourself. Yep. That’s right. They can be. Now buckle up.

If you haven’t stopped reading already, here’s why: The data shows that in 2008, the country was hemorrhaging millionaires.

In the spring of 2008, when those tax returns were being filed, Maryland passed its controversial “millionaire’s tax” – the 6.25 percent tax bracket for those of us lucky enough to pull in more than $1 million a year. (That “us” in the last sentence was less inclusive of certain reporters/bloggers than you may think.)

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Like herding cats …

Thomas Cooke is, in his own words, “not a cat person.” And that’s a problem.

Rosecroft Raceway shut down on July 1. The closure of the bankrupt harness racing track that hasn’t caught a whiff of a live race since 2008 promised to disrupt the professional and personal lives of the trainers, drivers, owners, grooms and other members of the standardbred industry.

Rosecroft was, until it stopped holding live races, the dominant harness track in Maryland. It boasted 100 racing days, compared to just 40 at Ocean Downs on the Eastern Shore.

Now, the people that called Rosecroft home have had to move on.

And in their wake, they’ve left about 100 cats, said Cooke, president of the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners’ Association, Rosecroft’s parent company.

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Another poll, another breakdown

Yet another poll this week has put Martin O’Malley and Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. neck and neck in the governor’s race.

In a survey of 569 likely voters, Public Policy Polling has O’Malley with a slight edge over Ehrlich, 45-42. But, the gap falls with in the 4.1 percent margin of error, so the race very well could be leaning the other way.

The more interesting stuff, to me at least, is found deeper in the survey. Public Policy publishes (say that five times fast) some of its cross-tabbed answers for free here.

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Maryland’s business ranking holds steady, CNBC says

Maryland held on to its ranking in the CNBC survey of the top states for doing business in 2010, coming in near the middle of the pack once again.

The state ranked 27th on the list this year and last.

Virginia, winner of the Northrop Grumman sweepstakes and Maryland’s most frequent foil in business climate discussions, finished second behind Texas. Virginia and the Lone Star State have flip-flopped atop the CNBC rankings in the past four years.

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Remember those Northrop guys?

Northrop Grumman Corp., the one that got away, has finally settled on a new place to call home.

The defense giant that had drawn multimillion-dollar dowry offers from Maryland, Virginia and the District, chose in April to focus its search south of the Potomac in the fast-growing areas in Northern Virginia. The company chose a building near Falls Church on Monday, The Washington Post reported.

The Post’s story offers a few more clues as to what Northrop was looking for, and why Maryland didn’t fit the bill. The company’s decision has been influenced all along by the size of the buildings available, their locations and the incentives doled about by different jurisdictions.

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O’Malley and Ehrlich in a ‘virtual tie’

The Maryland governor’s race is a tight one, according to a recent poll, with a number of factors at play in keeping close the contest between Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

The Rasmussen poll of likely voters showed Ehrlich leading O’Malley 47-46. But, with a 4.5 percent margin of error, the race is “a virtual tie.”

Republicans pounced on the results as proof of Ehrlich gaining momentum, after O’Malley led 49-43 in April. O’Malley reportedly dismissed the results when asked about the poll by a television news reporter.

On the economy, where the fighting has been waged in the governor’s race, 57 percent said cutting taxes is the best way to create jobs. The other options were “increasing government spending” (22 percent) and “not sure” (21 percent).

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Anti-incumbency, Einstein and what they mean for Md. politics

The last-minute scramble by office-seekers across the state to file their paperwork on time is over, but all that means is the real fun has just begun. Now, these races will actually play out.

I wanted to update our story on some General Assembly contests with the potential to be very, very interesting – both for the committee chairmanships the incumbents hold and the forces potentially at play in the districts – with a few more tidbits that didn’t make the original version.

Del. Joseph Vallario found himself in the spotlight often in the 2010 legislative session, perhaps most prominently during the brief attempted impeachment of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (who, incidentally, for all the fuss over the opinion he issued on gay marriage, is running unopposed.) Vallario, as head of the Judiciary Committee, led the vote that put an end to the impeachment.

Vallario drew more criticism, however, over complaints from female legislators that he treats them unfairly in his committee. Also, a drunk-driving bill died in Judiciary when Vallario didn’t put it up for a vote.

Those incidents have inspired opposition from within the Democratic party in Prince George’s County.

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