Governor's brother disagrees on some election issues

Gov. Martin O'Malley's brother has apparently split with the governor on two election issues, backing a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate and signing a petition to put the state's same-sex marriage law on the November ballot.

Patrick O'Malley declined to talk with a Sun reporter who knocked on the door of his Northeast Baltimore home Monday evening. "You are not coming in. Have a good day," he said, shutting the door.

A spokesman for the governor declined to comment for this article.

Patrick O'Malley is displaying two "Bongino for Senate" signs on his front lawn, indicating support for the GOP candidate who is challenging incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat. The governor is backing Cardin.

Dan Bongino occasionally mentions the governor and other state Democrats in the criticism he directs at Cardin and President Barack Obama. Earlier this year, Bongino blasted O'Malley directly, calling him a "fraud," "a national embarrassment" and "Captain Sound Bite."

Contacted Tuesday, Bongino said he was honored that the governor's brother is displaying his signs and recalls meeting him recently at an Orioles game. "That put a smile on my face," Bongino said.

Patrick O'Malley's name appears among the roughly 160,000 signatures on a petition that put Maryland's new same-sex marriage law on the ballot for voters to decide.

Passing a same-sex marriage law was one of the governor's top legislative priorities this year. The law squeaked through the House of Delegates with a single vote to spare after aggressive lobbying by top Democrats, including the governor.

The state is deeply divided on the issue, according to recent opinion polls. A phone survey of 804 likely Maryland voters last month for The Baltimore Sun found 49 percent in favor of the measure and 39 percent opposed.

The O'Malleys were brought up in the Roman Catholic Church, which strongly opposes gay marriage.

"People from all communities have a right to engage in the democratic process," said Deana Bass, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Marriage Alliance, which opposes same-sex marriage and led the petition drive to put the measure on the ballot. "We are excited to know that he did sign it."

Patrick O'Malley, a registered Democrat, gave money to his brother's 2006 gubernatorial campaign and, more recently, has contributed to Baltimore City Councilman Bill Cole.

He has lived and worked as an attorney in New York City, where he tried his hand in politics, with Martin O'Malley's support.

Patrick O'Malley ran unsuccessfully in a 2001 Democratic primary for a New York City Council seat. The primary election was initially set for Sept. 11, 2001; then-Mayor Martin O'Malley was en route to New York to help his brother's campaign when the attacks occurred.

The previous year, Patrick O'Malley ran unsuccessfully for a New York state assembly seat and Martin O'Malley hosted a fundraiser for him at an Irish pub. Live music was courtesy of O'Malley's March, the governor's band.

"Patrick is challenging a 16-year incumbent — a daunting task which I can appreciate," Martin O'Malley wrote in a fundraising letter sent to some Baltimore Democrats in 2000. "However, he is full of energy and is receiving a good response from the hundreds of doors he has knocked on thus far."

Baltimore Sun reporter John Fritze contributed to this article.

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