Sheckels Speaks on MD Political History and the O’Malley, Ehrlich Rivalry

On Thursday, Oct. 21, Theodore “Ted” Sheckels gave a lecture in the Glendenning Annex on his book “Maryland Politics and Political Communication, 1950 – 2005” and the Maryland gubernatorial race between Governor Martin O’Malley and former governor Bob Ehrlich.

Sheckels began the lecture by saying that mid-term elections favor incumbents but how sometimes “there comes along those years when there is very pronounced anti-incumbent sentiment.” Sheckels went on to say that 2010 was one of ‘those years.’

Sheckels said that Maryland is not subject to this sentiment as much as other states, partly because O’Malley and Ehrlich are both considered incumbents.

Sheckels categorized the candidates as acting “entirely predictable… [and] following the script perfectly.”

Sheckels then spoke of how Maryland is not “as blue a state as people think.” He then suggested Maryland must be examined region-by-region. Sheckels described the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland as “very red.”

He described Southern Maryland as “the most volatile part of the state” but generally red. The “Big Three” counties of Montgomery, Prince Georges, and Baltimore City are safely blue, and the “Big Five” counties of Baltimore, Harford, Howard, Carroll, and Anne Arundel are “where the winner is decided.”

Sheckels had some advice for both candidates. He said Ehrlich should come across as a moderate, argue that Maryland’s business climate is “bad”, and be “…the kind of Republican Marylanders will elect.”

Sheckels said O’Malley should, like Ehrlich, come across as moderate, emphasize his four years of hard work, and “emphasize quality of life issues…[like] education,” freezing college tuition, and the environment.

Sheckels concluded his lecture with some thoughts on the candidates’ characters. He said, “With O’Malley, there’s an aloofness that comes across,” and Ehrlich comes across as “mixed.”

First year Griffin Canfield, when asked what he thought of the lecture, said, “… [it was] very interesting. It’s cool to see the insight from other perspectives..[and] knowing areas each candidate has to win or lose.”

Fevzi Bilgin, Assistant Professor of Political Science, said he “…found [the lecture] very informative…filled with anecdotes and surprisingly detailed from someone living in Virginia.”

Todd Eberly, Acting Director of the Center for the Study of Democracy and Professor of Political Science, said he “…thought it was a great talk…the idea of bringing someone here whose specialty is rhetoric is a refreshing change.”

Eberly had some thoughts on each candidate as well. He said O’Malley has the “advantage” in this race and that Ehrlich needs to “stray from the script” and “mix things up.”

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