The Campaign Spot

Maryland’s Governor Gets a Primary Challenger

I wouldn’t count on the incumbent being knocked out, but Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is probably going to have a Democratic primary challenger: George Owings III, a former state legislator and state cabinet secretary.

“Historically, the liberal side of the party is what comes out in a primary,” Owings said. “But I think there’s a feeling in this current climate that is going to motivate those who would otherwise stay home to come out. There’s a sense of desperation out there, of real fear.”

For 16 years, Owings served as a Democratic delegate, becoming majority whip. [Robert] Ehrlich, Maryland’s first Republican chief executive in a generation, tapped him in 2004 as veterans secretary. O’Malley replaced Owings four months into his administration in 2007.

O’Malley’s approval rating stands at 48 percent, “six percentage points below Ehrlich’s in the months preceding his 2006 electoral loss, according to polling by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies.”

While an Owings victory is unlikely, a primary battle could deplete O’Malley’s resources, which might make a difference if Ehrlich jumps in again and there’s a tough general-election fight . . .


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