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Ballot Questions Loom Large Tomorrow

by BethesdaNow.com | November 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm | 1,177 views | No Comments

Bethesda voters tomorrow will encounter the longest ballot in Montgomery County in 20 years, full of high profile ballot questions that, at least locally, will dominate much of the talk surrounding the election.

As you prepare to head to the polls, check out our quick primer:

Maryland’s 8th Congressional District: Few expect Republican challenger Ken Timmerman to put up much of a fight against five-term incumbent and leading Democratic lawmaker Chris Van Hollen, even in a radically altered district that reaches all the way up to parts of more conservative and rural Frederick and Carroll Counties.

Despite Timmerman’s claims of a competitive race, he’s received little attention in heavily Democratic downcounty Montgomery and Bethesda. Pollsters didn’t even conduct a poll. Van Hollen has spent much of the months leading up to the election helping others, both on the national stage and in other competitive House races.

Timmerman, a Kensington neighbor of Van Hollen’s, has run on a platform of less government and conservative views on many social issues. He has tried to position himself as the choice for Jewish voters by attacking Van Hollen’s record on Israel, calling Van Hollen “a fair weather friend of Israel.” Last week, a Tea Party group came to Kensington to support Timmerman, an investigative journalist and author.

In a contentious September debate, Van Hollen accused Timmerman of distorting his record and the facts, especially on the budget. Van Hollen is the ranking member on the House Budget Committee. At a later candidates forum, Van Hollen said he has “never seen such gutter politics in our community.”

U.S. Senate: You might have seen ads for Potomac businessman and former Georgetown University lecturer Rob Sobhani this election season, and though polls say incumbent Ben Cardin (D) is very likely to keep his seat, the Independent Sobhani made waves.

He spent nearly $5 million on a campaign that analysts say hurt any chance Republican challenger Dan Bongino had. Today, Bongino filed a complaint with the FEC over Sobhani robo calls he said violated election law, the Washington Post reported.

Montgomery County Question B, Police Effects Bargaining: The fight over whether to uphold a law that repealed the Montgomery County police union’s bargaining rights on things such as email use and clothing allowance for undercover officers reached a fever pitch about a month ago.

That’s about the time the union hired Washington D.C. lobbyist Lanny Davis as a consultant and Davis helped spearhead an agressive campaign against the County Council and County Executive Isiah Leggett (D), who supported the repeal of effects bargaining.

County officials argue effects bargaining rights hurt law enforcement and public safety because of the delay required for union negotiations. They also point out that much of the county’s Democratic leadership, a group traditionally protective of union rights, support the law and that no other police unions in the state have effects bargaining.

Those against the law and in favor of effects bargaining have compared rolling back effects bargaining to Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who famously cut collective bargaining benefits to state workers, forcing a recall election.

Union officials tried unsuccessfully to get a Maryland state attorney to investigate county efforts in campaigning for Question B. Today, they announced they are suing Leggett and county spokesman Patrick Lacefield for illegal expenditure of taxpayer money to support Question B.

State Ballot Question 4, Dream Act: The polls show strong support for ratifying the Dream Act, which would allow in-state tuition rates at state schools for undocumented students brought into the U.S. by their parents and educated at state high schools.

State Ballot Question 5, Redistricting: Democratic state lawmakers reconfigured district lines to help challenge two long-held Republican congressional seats, but many (including many Montgomery Democratic leaders) want voters to vote against the ballot question to uphold the new districts.

County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D-Silver Spring) said the proposed districts hurt the possibility of electing minority candidates, as some of the districts (including District 8) are no longer majority minority:

Video from MyMCMedia

State Ballot Question 6, Same-sex marriage: The vote to uphold the state’s Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would allow same-sex couples equal marriage rights, was put on the ballot after opponents got enough support for a veto referendum.

Earlier polls showed a likely win for same-sex marriage backers, but since the polls have tightened, the result of what some say is a pushback from religious blacks against gay marriage.

State Ballot Question 7, Expanded Casino Gambling: If passed, the measure would allow a new Las Vegas-style casino at National Harbor in Prince George’s County and live table games at the state’s existing slot machine facilities, including at Maryland Live! at Arundel Mills in Hanover.

Competing casino companies MGM, which wants to build the casino at National Harbor, and Penn National Gaming, which owns a popular casino for Marylanders in Charles Town, W.Va., poured massive amounts of money into ads, to the tune of more than $90 million.

At issue is just how much of the promised casino revenue will be given to the state to help maintain and increase education funding and the desire of some officials to keep money Marylanders use in casinos in Maryland.

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